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Ukraine's Poroshenko Promises Unilateral Cease-Fire

Ukrainian soldiers inspect cars at a checkpoint near Slovyansk earlier this month.
Ukrainian soldiers inspect cars at a checkpoint near Slovyansk earlier this month.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has announced plans for a unilateral cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, where government forces are fighting pro-Russian separatists.

Poroshenko told reporters in Kyiv on June 18 that he would soon order a "very brief" unilateral cease-fire as part of a broader plan to end the 10-week-long separatist insurgency.

The Kremlin earlier said that Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed a possible cease-fire in eastern Ukraine in a telephone conversation on June 17.

According to the Kremlin, Poroshenko and Putin also discussed the deaths announced earlier in the day of two Russian state television journalists.

According to Russian media, sound engineer Anton Voloshin and correspondent Igor Kornelyuk were killed after they came under fire while covering fighting near the eastern city of Luhansk.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the deaths demonstrated the "criminal nature" of Ukraine's military operation against pro-Russian rebels and urged authorities in Kyiv to investigate.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), whose special monitoring mission is working in eastern Ukraine, echoed the call for a probe into the attack.

"This death is yet another horrid reminder that not enough is being done to protect journalists who risk their lives reporting from conflict zones in Ukraine," Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE representative on media freedom, said in a statement.

The UN Security Council called for an investigation into violence against journalists in Ukraine and expressed concern about the detention and harassment of reporters.

Russian investigators say they have opened a criminal probe against the Ukrainian interior minister, Arsen Avakov, and the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, billionaire Ihor Kolomoyskiy, accusing them of being behind the killings of peaceful civilians and journalists in the east.

In a separate development, Poroshenko has nominated the country’s ambassador to Germany, Pavlo Klimkin, as his candidate to replace acting Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya.

Klimkin's candidacy is expected to come up for a vote later this week.

Klimkin, 47, has been Ukraine's envoy to Germany since 2012.

He is a pro-European diplomat who has played a big part in talks on a political Association Agreement with the European Union.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and ITAR-TASS
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