DONETSK, Ukraine, April 18 (UPI) -- Pro-Russian militants have refused to withdraw their occupation of government buildings, threatening the new deal struck in Geneva by Russia and the West.
The leader of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" Denis Pushilin said that they would leave the buildings only if the newly-instated government in Kiev stepped down.
Alexander Gnezdilov, spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic called the Kiev government illegal and asked that they be removed from parliament and the presidential administration.
“We will lay down our weapons only if the National Guard and other Ukrainian military structures stop attacking us, and if we and our families feel safe,” Miroslav Rudenko, another leader of the pro-Russian militants in the Donetsk region, told Interfax news agency.
The deal struck by Russia, the U.S., Ukraine and the E.U. called for all the illegal militant groups to be disarmed and leave all government billings occupied.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Friday that parliament was ready to pass legislation granting amnesty to all those who put down their weapons and vacated the buildings.
But statements from the militant groups suggest that this will be easier said than done. Militant groups said "we cannot accept the values of the Kiev junta, we have our heroic past going back to World War Two, we are the Russian bear which is waking up".
The group said they wouldn't ask Russia for help if Ukrainian government, or the "Kiev junta" as the group chose to call them, went to war. They said they would hold a referendum before 11 May, about independence, after which they will consider asking Russia for help.
President Obama has expressed skepticism as to whether Russia will hold its end of the deal and warned of further economic sanctions if the situation failed to improve.
"My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days, but I don't think, given past performance, that we can count on that," he said.
[BBC] [Washington Post]