Pro-Russian Separatists Reject Ukraine President's Cease-fire Offer

Rebels deem President Petro Poroshenko's peace deal an attempt to disarm and capture them.

Ukraine crisis
Peolpe shout for independence during a rally in support of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on June 18, 2014. AFP

DPA - Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday rejected an offer by President Petro Poroshenko for a unilateral ceasefire. "Our interest is that the occupants leave our territory," Denis Pushilin, the leader of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, told the Russian Dozhd TV channel.

The news comes after Poroshenko said in Kiev that the government will announce a short unilateral ceasefire to allow the separatists to lay down their arms and restore order.

Pushilin, who is currently in Moscow, said that the offer could hardly be called constructive. "They stop firing, we disarm and they take us unarmed. That is Kiev's logic," he said.

The ceasefire is part of a wider peace plan announced by Poroshenko on Monday. It would be followed by an amnesty for insurgents and constitutional amendments that give more power to the regions.

The President did not say when the plan would be implemented. But Ukraine's acting Colonel General Mykhailo Koval said that it would happen in the next few days, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reported.

Poroshenko had discussed the plan in telephone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, his office said.

Ukrainian government forces have been waging a military campaign against armed separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk provinces for two months. More than 300 people have been killed in the fighting, according to official government figures.

Poroshenko also ordered an investigation into the death of two Russian TV journalists who were killed by a mortar on Tuesday, his office said. Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin of Russia's state network VGTRK were reporting from an insurgent checkpoint outside the city of Luhansk when they were hit by mortar fire presumed to come from Ukrainian government forces.

A senior Russian lawmaker blamed the Ukrainian government for the journalists' death. "They are trying to gag and blindfold everybody in face of the fascist thugs' crimes," said Sergei Neverov, a deputy speaker of parliament and senior official with the governing United Russia party, Interfax reported.

A United Nations report released Wednesday said that people in eastern Ukraine face a worsening human rights situation as the separatists increasingly spread violence and fear. Human rights abuses in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions were no longer affecting only journalists, politicians, civil servants and activists, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said, which has deployed some 30 staff to Ukraine.