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Ukainian president: no prosecution for protesters who surrender weapons and free seized buildings

In hopes of quelling unrest in eastern Ukraine, President Oleksandr Turchynov announced Thursday that protesters will not face prosecution if they surrender their weapons and release the buildings they have seized.

By
JC Finley
Ukrainian acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, pictured on March, 4, 2014. (UPI/Ivan Vakolenko)
Ukrainian acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, pictured on March, 4, 2014. (UPI/Ivan Vakolenko) | License Photo

KIEV, Ukraine, April 10 (UPI) -- Ukrainian acting President and Verkhovna Rada Chairman Oleksandr Turchynov addressed the issue of protesters in eastern Ukraine Thursday, offering them a way out free of prosecution, and agreeing to consider expanded rights for local government councils.

Pro-Russian demonstrators took up arms in eastern Ukraine over the weekend, seizing government buildings and indicating their desire to hold a referendum similar to the one held in Crimea in March that led to the (widely considered illegal) annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian Federation.

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On Thursday, the Regions Party demanded the passage of an amnesty law for the protesters.

President Turchynov countered, saying that an amnesty law was not necessary. "If people lay down their arms and release administrative buildings, we do not need to adopt an amnesty law. We guarantee that there will be no prosecutions of people who surrender their weapons and free the premises. And I am prepared to issue a respective presidential decree."

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The president's proposal followed a conversation he had with protesters occupying an administrative building in Luhansk. "In order to avoid bloodshed, I proposed that the citizens who are in this building [surrender their weapons and free the buildings], and am ready to offer the same to those people who are in the Donetsk regional administration."

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Further, the president announced the government was prepared to consider expanding the rights of local councils possibly to include granting them executive authorities. He also stated his intent to create an international commission to objectively investigate "all the events related to the deaths of Ukrainian citizens during peaceful protests."

[Interfax Ukraine News Agency]

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