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Ukrainian President Offers Amnesty To Pro-Russian Activists

Pro-Russian activists reinforce their barricade outside the regional Security Service building in the eastern city of Luhansk on April 10.
Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has offered pro-Russia protesters occupying government buildings in eastern Ukraine amnesty from prosecution.

Pro-Russian activists have been holding state buildings in the eastern cities of Luhansk and Donetsk since April 6.

Protesters in Donetsk proclaimed the creation of a sovereign "people's republic" from within the regional government building on April 7 and have since built huge barricades around the structure.

Turchynov told lawmakers on April 10 that the protesters would not be prosecuted if they surrendered their weapons and end the siege.

"I am ready to formalize this in a presidential decree," Turchynov said.

"We can solve this problem today," he added.

Turchynov also offered protesters more regional autonomy. "We are ready to immediately discuss a local government reform to widen regional assemblies' powers, including the right to form the local executive," he said.

On April 9, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told journalists that there were two ways to remove separatists from regional government buildings -- negotiations or force.

"For the minority [of separatists] who want conflict, they will get a forceful answer from the Ukrainian authorities," Avakov said.

Authorities in Kyiv and their allies accuse Russia of fomenting unrest in the mainly Russian-speaking east of Ukraine as a pretext to possibly seizing more territory, a claim strongly dismissed by Moscow.
With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa
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