Ukraine's PM Offers Concessions to Donetsk Pro-Russian Separatists
Pro-Russian separatists have retained control of key government buildings in eastern Ukraine despite PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk's promise to cede more power to the country's regions.
Yatsenyuk's vow came during a visit on Friday to the coal mining region of Donetsk as armed militants barricaded themselves inside the local government building and demanded a referendum on joining Russia.
Ukraine's acting Prime Minister has offered concessions to regional leaders and pro-Russian protesters, after Kiev's deadline passed for separatists to vacate state buildings they had seized.
Yatsenyuk said that he supported amending Ukraine's constitution and changing laws to devolve power. Such a proposal would mean that regional governors and their administrations would no longer appointed by the central government, and regional referendums would be permitted. Yatsenyuk also promised that no one would be allowed to limit the Russian language and the right to speak it in Ukraine, local news agencies informed.
Separatists in Luhansk, who seized the state security building and called themselves the Southeastern Army, showed little signs of backing down from their demands, the Voice of America reported.
Meanwhile, the United States imposed new sanctions on seven top Crimea officials. The sanctions have frozen the US-based assets of key Crimean breakaway leaders and gas company Chernomorneftegaz, whose funds were seized by the Crimean parliament and are now managed by Moscow.