Pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine’s east who have been occupying government buildings in more than 10 cities said Friday they will only leave them if the interim government in Kiev resigns.
Denis Pushilin, a chairman of the self-appointed Donetsk People’s Republic, told reporters that the insurgents do not recognize the Ukrainian government as legitimate.
Ukraine and Russia on Thursday agreed to take tentative steps toward calming tensions along their shared border after weeks of conflict. But Pushilin, speaking at the insurgent-occupied regional administration’s building in Donetsk, said the deal specifies that all illegally seized buildings should be vacated, and in his opinion the government in Kiev is also occupying public buildings illegally.
“This is a reasonable agreement but everyone should vacate the buildings and that includes Yatsenyuk and Turchynov,” he said referring to the acting Ukrainian prime minister and president. He reiterated the call for a referendum that he said will allow “self-determination of the people.”
The deal agreed in Geneva calls for disarming all paramilitary groups and the immediate return of all government buildings seized across the country. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the time emphasized that that applies to all parties, including protesters in Kiev.
Russia did not demand that that the new government leave the buildings, even though Moscow has not recognized it.