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Yanukovych Calls for Donbass Status Referendum if Kiev Fails Minsk Deal

© Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev / Go to the mediabankFormer Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych interviewed by RIA Novosti
Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych interviewed by RIA Novosti - Sputnik International
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Ex-President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Polish President Andrzej Duda, as well as the heads of European bodies.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Ex-President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych calls for a referendum on the status of the southeast Ukrainian region known as Donbass if Kiev does not comply with a set of ceasefire agreements.

"In the event of current Ukrainian authorities failing to observe the Minsk agreements, it is needed to initiate a referendum on the status of Donbass," Yanukovych wrote in a letter to world leaders obtained by Sputnik.

He offered to include the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics in the reconciliation format comprising Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine.

Yanukovych also calls on world leaders to "initiate the creation of a special commission of the Council of Europe to monitor the investigation of crimes committed on the Maidan."

The letter was addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Polish President Andrzej Duda, as well as the heads of European bodies.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attends a ceremony to hand over weapons and military vehicles to servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces in Chuhuiv outside Kharkiv, Ukraine, October 15, 2016 - Sputnik International
Why Kiev's Shelling Raids on Donbass Coincide With Poroshenko's Foreign Tours
The Donbass conflict erupted in April 2014 as a local counter-reaction to the West-sponsored Maidan coup in Kiev that had toppled legitimate President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held independence referendums and proclaimed the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Kiev has since been conducting a military operation, encountering stiff local resistance.

In February 2015, Kiev forces and Donbass independence supporters signed a peace agreement in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The deal stipulates a full ceasefire, weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in Donbass, as well as constitutional reforms that would give a special status to the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. Despite the agreement, the ceasefire regime is regularly violated, with both sides accusing each other of multiple breaches, undermining the terms of the accord.

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