Russia slams Ukraine's proposed constitutional changes
Russia on Thursday criticised proposed changes to Ukraine's constitution, saying Kiev authorities "absolutely" ignored the demands put forward by Moscow-aligned separatists.
On Wednesday Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko proposed constitutional changes giving more powers to the regions but refusing to spell out the rebels' semi-autonomous status in the constitution.
"Kiev authorities talk a lot about reforms but they absolutely ignore the proposals on all issues of political reform that are being put forward by representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk," Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin said.
"This is the main shortcoming of what they are doing," Karasin, who is set to meet US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland on July 9 to discuss the Ukraine crisis, told the state RIA Novosti news agency.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov struck a similar note, saying Kiev authorities were violating a February peace agreement by putting together constitutional changes that did not take rebel leaders' opinion into account.
"As far as I understand, there were no contacts between Kiev and representatives of the Donbass," he said, referring to the rebel-held territories.
Poroshenko's draft only makes reference to an existing piece of legislation that gives insurgency leaders partial self-rule for an interim period of three years.
The rebels however would like to see their semi-autonomous status spelled out in constitutional amendments.
Kiev and the West accuse Moscow of backing the Russian-speaking rebels with weapons, money and troops.
More than 6,500 people have been killed in the fighting since April 2014, according to the United Nations.
Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukrainian authorities of discriminating against Russian speakers in the east.
In February, France and Germany helped broker a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine but the brittle truce has been shaken by sporadic fighting in recent months.
© 2015 AFP