00:07 GMT03 June 2020
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    A group of radicals, who introduced themselves as the members of the Other Russia (Drugaya Rossiya), an unregistered nationalist party in Russia, disrupted on Wednesday a press conference of Martin Sajdik, the OSCE envoy to the Contact Group on Ukraine, after the Contact Group meeting in Minsk, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

    MINSK (Sputnik) — Three men and a woman began chanting slogans — "Stop the Minsk talks." After this Sajdik left the conference room.

    "The Minsk talks should be halted. The Ukrainian authorities do not uphold the ceasefire prescribed by the 2015 Minsk agreements," the leaflets scattered by the radicals read.

    Belarus Foreign Ministry employees asked the journalists to leave the conference room and said that the conference would be resumed after the checking of the journalists' press cards.

    One of the radicals was detained after the incident, the city authorities have announced.

    "At least one of them was detained right away … A check is underway," the press service of the Minsk City Executive Committee said on Twitter.

    According to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, the press conference was resumed after the radicals were taken out of the conference room by law enforcement representatives. The Ministry said on Wednesday that it considered the incident a deliberate provocation aimed at disrupting the Contact Group negotiations on Ukraine.

    The settlement of the Eastern Ukrainian conflict is discussed during various negotiations, including the Normandy Four and Minsk Contact Group on Ukraine meetings. On February 1, the Contact Group adopted a statement under which parties to the Ukrainian conflict must withdraw heavy weaponry from the contact line in Donbas by February 5. However, Kiev did not follow the agreement, Russian envoy to Contact Group on Ukraine Boris Gryzlov said on February 7.

    Following the Contact Group meeting earlier on Wednesday, Sajdik said that the conflicting sides in Eastern Ukraine had reached an agreement on withdrawing the banned weapons from the contact line by February 20.

    The situation in Donbass has escalated over the past few weeks, in particular near the town of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, where clashes between Kiev forces and the local militia have intensified.


    The breakout of hostilities in eastern Ukraine began 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. Since then, the ceasefire regime has been regularly violated, with both sides accusing each other of multiple breaches, undermining the terms of the accord.



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