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Ukraine Rebels, Russia Criticize Proposed Constitutional Changes

Russia has expressed "deep concern" over proposed changes to Ukraine's constitution, saying Kyiv "absolutely" ignored the demands put forward by separatist rebels.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on July 2 that Ukrainian authorities are violating a peace agreement signed in Minsk in February by putting together constitutional changes that did not take rebel leaders' opinion into account.

Meanwhile, Donetsk separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko complained he and his Luhansk counterpart, Igor Plotnitsky, had not been consulted over the constitutional changes.

The comments come a day after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko presented a blueprint to give regions more powers and control over their budgets.

Poroshenko's draft does not spell out the rebels' semiautonomous status in the constitution, but only makes reference to an existing piece of legislation that gives insurgency leaders partial self-rule for an interim period of three years.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters