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Ukraine PM Says Regions Need More Powers

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk speaks during a meeting with leaders and representatives of the industrial elite of the region in the eastern city of Donetsk on April 11.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk speaks during a meeting with leaders and representatives of the industrial elite of the region in the eastern city of Donetsk on April 11.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said April 11 in Donetsk that the country's regions should have more powers and be allowed to hold referendums on important issues.

Yatsenyuk met in Donetsk with regional leaders but not with protesters who are occupying a regional administration building in central Donetsk and have declared the formation of a sovereign "Donetsk People's Republic."

Yatsenyuk called on the separatists -- who have built large barricades -- to vacate the building and surrender their weapons.

The protesters stormed several government buildings in Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk on April 6.

Only the building in Kharkiv has been cleared of separatists.
ALSO READ: RFE/RL Live Blog of the Ukraine crisis

Yatsenyuk said he opposes the use of force in recoving the building in Donetsk and added that the government will never "limit the use of the language a person speaks, including Russian."

Yatsenyuk also called for regional government leaders in Ukraine to be elected instead of being appointed by the national government in Kyiv.

Yatsenyuk also met with influential Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, who said he supports the protesters call for more regional power but says that Donetsk will always be part of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused Western countries of spreading anti-Russian sentiments and warned that such a policy could threaten European stability.
TAKE OUR QUIZ on Donetsk

Since Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea in March, Western states have accused Moscow of destabilizing Europe and have imposed sanctions targeting Russian individuals.

In his remarks on April 11, Lavrov also said countries should to stop trying to "legitimize" the new Ukrainian government if they seek a de-escalation of the crisis.

Russia is one of the few countries in the world that does not recognize the Ukrainian government of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and acting President Oleksandr Turchynov.

Moscow says ousted President Viktor Yanukovych is the country's legitimate leader.

Yanukovych fled Ukraine and is currently in Russia. Moscow has refused to extradite him to Ukraine to face trial, a position it reiterated on April 11.

In his remarks, Lavrov also underlined Moscow's opposition to Ukraine joining NATO, saying it's necessary for Ukraine to have legal guarantees of its "neutrality."

The Russian foreign minister added that Moscow is ready for four-party talks next week with the United States, the European Union, and Ukraine.

He said talks about energy issues, including Ukraine's gas debt to Moscow, should be on the agenda of the talks.

In Crimea -- the Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia last month -- secessionist lawmakers approved a constitution declaring the peninsula to be the “Russian Republic of Crimea.”

In Brussels, NATO says it stands by the satellite images it released that it says show a massive Russian troop buildup along Ukraine's eastern border with Russia.

Moscow has suggested the images are of an earlier exercise and accused the West of fearmongering.

"When reviewed alongside images released by [Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe] earlier today," the NATO statement says, highlighting what it claims are 35,000-40,000 troops and heavy weaponry, "it is clear that the military build-up of forces occurred in early March 2014."

"SHAPE is releasing additional images alongside those that were released earlier, in order to clearly show that the claims of Russian officials are categorically false," NATO says.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said April 11 in Sofia that Russia must withdraw its troops from the border region and begin a "sincere" dialogue with the West.
With reporting by Interfax, ITAR-TASS, Reuters, AP, dpa, and AFP

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