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Russia-Backed Separatists Issue 'Passports' In Donetsk


Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk region have begun issuing their own self-styled passports.

The red documents have been issued in separatist-held parts of the Donetsk region since March 16.

The first passport issued was given to Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the Donetsk separatist leader.

"This document is a proof of what we were able to do, what we protected, and achieved," Zakharchenko said. "We are starting to issue passports."

Zakharchenko said the new passports must be held by anyone who intends to take part in local elections yet to be scheduled.

The documents, featuring the image of a double-headed eagle, will grant holders entry into Russia, he said.

Kyiv has said the elections must be held under Ukrainian law and monitored by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -- two conditions the separatists have refused to accept.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP
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