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The U.S. charge d’affaires in Kyiv, William Taylor (file photo)

The U.S. charge d’affaires in Kyiv has condemned Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine after reports of deadly attacks on medical personnel and called on Moscow and the “forces it backs” to end the fighting “immediately.”

“Attacks by Russia-led forces on medical personnel show a complete lack of respect for human life, international standards, and the Minsk agreements," William B. Taylor said on July 2 in a statement on the embassy's Facebook page.

“We call on Russia and the forces it backs to end the fighting immediately, protect civilians and humanitarian personnel, and withdraw armed forces and weapons,” he wrote.

Taylor is the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was brought back to serve as charge d’affaires in Kyiv last year.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on July 1 said one of its soldiers was killed after Russia-backed separatists opened fire at a medical vehicle in the eastern region of Donetsk.

The ministry said two other servicemen -- a soldier and a military physician -- were injured in the anti-tank-missile attack on July 1. Officials said that the medical specialist died later from wounds at the hospital.

The Defense Ministry said on July 2 that separatist fighters violated a cease-fire 25 times in a 24-hour period, using 120- and 82-millimeter mortars that are banned under the Minsk peace agreements.

The ministry said Ukrainian armed forces had killed three separatists and wounded five others.

Separatists in Donetsk said one of their fighters had been killed and another one wounded by Ukrainian armed forces.

Since April 2014, some 13,000 people have been killed in fighting between Kyiv's forces and the separatists who control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Cease-fire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords -- September 2014 and February 2015 pacts aimed at resolving the conflict -- have contributed to a decrease in fighting but have failed to hold.

A new cease-fire agreement was reached on March 8, but both sides have accused each other of repeated violations since then.



On July 1, Ukraine's embassy to Britain posted on Twitter the photos of the nine Ukrainian soldiers it said were killed by "Russia-led forces in occupied Donbas" in June, referring to the areas under separatist control.

With reporting by Interfax
Human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov (file photo)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered the Russian state to pay 75,000 euros ($84,900) to nine activists detained at protest rallies in 2006, 2007, and 2010.

The court's July 2 ruling said that in all nine cases the Russian authorities violated Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights that guarantees freedom of peaceful assembly.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR court also ruled that there had been a violation of Article 13, saying the activists did not have an effective remedy against the alleged violations of their freedom of assembly.

Prominent Russian human rights activists Lev Ponomaryov, Mikhail Kriger, and Mikhail Shneider are among the nine persons who filed the complaints.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, is accused by critics of using the police and courts to stifle dissent.

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