A leader among pro-Russian activists occupying government buildings in eastern Ukraine has said his side will not move until Kyiv's interim government steps down. This follows a de-escalation agreement made in Geneva.
Speaking from the eastern city of Donetsk on Friday, a spokesman for the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic said his side would not abide by the conditions of a international deal to vacate the seized buildings until the interim government in Kyiv stepped down.
"We agree that the buildings should be vacated, but first (Prime Minister Arseniy) Yatsenyuk and (acting President Oleksandr) Turchynov must leave the buildings that they are occupying illegally since their coup d'etat," said Denis Pushilin.
Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in the midst of a wave of protests earlier this year. Russia – and separatists in Ukraine – do not recognize the legitimacy of the new interim government in Kyiv.
'Not in our name'
On Thursday in Geneva, Russia and Ukraine agreed to a deal brokered by the US and the EU that would see "all illegal military formations" be dissolved and public buildings occupied in several eastern Ukrainian towns and cities be cleared.
Protesters would receive amnesty for turning in their weapons if they were not facing any capital crimes.
But Pushilin's comments indicate that the protesters are not ready to budge. Although Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signed the accord, Pushilin said he "did not sign in our name."
A military push launched earlier in the week to retake the occupied buildings from the protesters is continuing despite the agreement, said a spokeswoman for Ukraine's State Security Service.
"The anti-terrorist operation is still going on and how long it continues depends on how long terrorists remain in our country," Marina Ostapenko said on Friday.
mz/hc (Reuters, AFP, AP)