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Members of a Ukrainian military medical unit carry an injured soldier from hospital to an ambulance as they prepare to evacuate from the eastern town of Avdiyivka on January 31.

At least 9,940 people have been killed in the conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since it erupted mid-April 2014, the Office of UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on March 15.

"The total death toll from mid-April 2014 to 12 March 2017 is at least 9,940, with at least 23,455 people injured," the OHCHR said in a statement, adding that this was "a conservative estimate based on available data."

It said the casualty figures include "Ukrainian armed forces, civilians, and members of armed groups" and that more than 2,000 were "civilians who have been killed in hostilities."

The number of civilians injured due to the conflict is estimated at between 7,000 and 9,000, the statement said.

It said that a "sharp escalation of hostilities" between January 29 and February 3 "had a devastating impact on all aspects of life for civilians" living near the front line in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Fighting during that period killed seven civilians -- the monthly average in 2016 -- and also caused extensive damage infrastructure and "deprived tens of thousands of people of life-saving services and basic necessities."

Fighting has continued despite a cease-fire deal agreed as part of the February 2015 accord known as Minsk II, which also laid out steps to end the conflict and restore Kyiv's control over the border between the separatist-held terrorities and Russia.

The Russian State Duma has approved legislation that would strengthen restrictions on live broadcasts of open trials on television, radio, and the Internet.

According to the law adopted on March 15, broadcasts of open trials must have permission from the judges.

The judges will also have a right to impose limitations on the broadcasts and set broadcasting locations in courtrooms.

The media outlets broadcasting open trials will be officially registered in the trial protocols.

Journalists will continue to be allowed to do audio and text recordings during open trials.

The law imposes a full ban on broadcasts of preliminary hearings ahead of trials.

Russia's Supreme Court in 2012 allowed journalists to send text messages from open trials via the Internet.

Damir Gainutdinov, a lawyer of the Agora human rights group, said the law "does not give any additional rights to journalists" and "seriously limits the transparency and openness of trials" in Russia.

With reporting by

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