DONETSK/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – One is a dapper former croupier and promoter of Ponzi scams run by “Russia’s Bernie Madoff”; the other is a burly Soviet Navy veteran turned soap factory boss, with a shifting gaze and a glint of gold teeth.
In an uprising whose calling cards are the Kalashnikov and the black balaclava, Denis Pushilin and Vyacheslav Ponomaryov have become the unmasked faces of the pro-Russian separatist movement in eastern Ukraine that has plunged Moscow and the West into their most ominous confrontation since the Cold War.
SLAVIANSK/DONETSK, Ukraine, April 22 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s
acting president accused Russia of aiding “terrorists” who
killed a politician from his own party, urging a crackdown in
the east on Tuesday that could hamper international efforts to
defuse the crisis.
As Vice President Joe Biden flew home from a brief visit to
demonstrate solidarity with Kiev’s new leaders against Moscow,
Oleksander Turchinov called on security forces to relaunch an
operation against pro-Russian separatists that was suspended
after a deal with Moscow last week on disarming militants.
SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – A Ukrainian journalist being held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine was brought out by her captors on Monday and told reporters she was being questioned but not mistreated.
Irma Krat, 29, emerged briefly from the Ukrainian state security service building in Slaviansk, where she is held, to tell journalists, a day after she was detained: “Conditions are OK. It is a bit cold, but they are giving me food, water.”
KIEV/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine, April 21 (Reuters) – An agreement
reached last week to avert wider conflict in Ukraine was
faltering as the new week began, with pro-Moscow separatist
gunmen showing no sign of surrendering government buildings they
Washington says it will hold Moscow responsible and impose
new economic sanctions if the separatists do not clear out of
government buildings they have occupied across swathes of
eastern Ukraine over the past two weeks. U.S. Vice President Joe
Biden was due in Kiev later on Monday.
SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian authorities in eastern Ukraine presented identity documents, maps and a business card to support their view that Ukrainian far-right nationalists had carried out a deadly attack early on Sunday.
The nationalists and authorities in Kiev said it was a staged display to conceal the hand of Russian secret services in the gunfight, in which at least three people were killed.
SLAVIANSK, Ukraine, April 20 (Reuters) – At least three
people were killed in a gunfight in the early hours of Sunday
near a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russian separatists,
shaking an already fragile international accord that was
designed to avert a wider conflict.
The incident triggered a war of words between Moscow and
Ukraine’s western-backed government with each questioning the
other’s compliance with the agreement, brokered last week in
Geneva, to end a crisis that has made Russia’s ties with the
West more fraught than at any time since the Cold War.
SLAVIANSK, Ukraine, April 20 (Reuters) – At least two people
were killed in a gunfight early on Sunday near a Ukrainian city
controlled by pro-Russian separatists, shaking an already
fragile international accord that was designed to avert a wider
After the deaths, Russia questioned whether Ukraine’s
Western-backed government was complying with the agreement,
brokered last week in Geneva, to end a crisis that has made
Russia’s ties with the West more fraught than at any time since
the Cold War.
SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Gunfire erupted near a makeshift checkpoint manned by pro-Russian separatists near Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine early on Sunday, killing at least two people.
Separatists gave a higher casualty figure, saying they had come under attack from Ukrainian nationalist paramilitaries.
DONETSK/KIEV (Reuters) – A Ukrainian rabbi whose congregation was the target of an anti-Semitic leaflet that drew global media interest and condemnation from the U.S. government believes it was a hoax and wants to put the matter to rest.
But five days after the incident in the restive eastern city of Donetsk, Ukraine’s prime minister, anxious to maintain U.S. support against Russia, issued a statement accusing Moscow and told a U.S. TV channel he would find the “bastards” responsible.
KIEV/DONETSK, April 19 (Reuters) – A mediator from Europe’s
OSCE security body headed to eastern Ukraine on Saturday seeking
the surrender of pro-Russian separatists as the Kiev government
declared an Easter truce following a peace accord with Moscow.
Gunmen occupying public buildings in Donetsk and other
Russian-speaking border towns refuse to recognise an accord in
Geneva on Thursday by which Russia, Ukraine and Kiev’s U.S. and
EU allies agreed that the OSCE should oversee the disarmament of
militants and the evacuation of occupied facilities and streets.