KIEV, April 10 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian authorities will not prosecute the protesters occupying government buildings in eastern regions of the country if they lay down their weapons, interim Ukrainian President Olexander Turchinov said Thursday.
“There is no need to enact amnesty for the people who surrender their weapons and end the siege of the government buildings. We guarantee that they will not be prosecuted in such case,” Turchinov said. “I am ready to formalize this in a presidential decree.”
The acting president added that he had talked by phone with the protesters who had taken control of the security service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk.
“In order to stop the bloodshed, I made a proposal to the people occupying the building and am ready to announce it to the ones occupying the building of the Donetsk regional administration,” he said.
The new Ukrainian authorities are ready to discuss a local government reform to widen regional assemblies' powers, including the right to form a local executive body, Turchinov said.
He also discussed with the protesters the possibility of convening an international committee to investigate the deaths of Ukrainians killed during protests.
Meanwhile, the pro-federalization protesters in Donetsk deny that that they have any weapons.
"Representatives of Kiev have repeatedly offered us to give up the firearms which, in their opinion, we possess. However, neither I, nor anyone else, have seen any weapons here. We defend ourselves by impromptu means," said Sergey Tsyplakov, the deputy director of a local group called the People’s Militia of Donbas.
Pro-federalization supporters occupied several government buildings in the eastern city of Donetsk on Monday. They declared the formation of an independent “people’s republic” and announced plans to schedule a referendum by mid-May on declaring independence and joining Russia. Similar events took place in nearby Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city..
Ukraine’s acting interior minister Arsen Avakov told journalists on Wednesday that a “special police task force” had already arrived in Donetsk and Kharkiv from western regions of Ukraine and was ready to take them under control within 48 hours, by force if needed.
The minister's threat came in defiance of warnings by Moscow and international experts that a violent crackdown on the demonstrators – who are seeking increased local autonomy – risked escalating the crisis and plunging the country into a civil war.