Germany criticises Ukraine rebels' plans for local polls

21st September 2015, Comments 0 comments

Germany on Monday criticised local elections being organised by pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine as a breach of a February peace deal and urged Russia to distance itself from the idea.

"We consider with great concern the announcement by pro-Russian separatists of the organisation of elections, so-called municipal elections," said Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert.

"It would be a serious breach of the Minsk agreements," he told a regular news conference.

"And it is regrettable that Russia has not distanced itself from the plans so far."

The separatists in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions have said they would hold local elections on October 18 and November 1 respectively.

Under the agreements signed in the Belarussian capital in February, the separatist regions must conduct local elections by the end of the year "in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the law of Ukraine".

The rebels, however, want to hold local elections under their own terms, which include barring all pro-Ukrainian candidates and holding the polls on days that do not correspond to local elections planned in the rest of Ukraine on October 25.

Earlier on Monday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on Kiev and Moscow to do everything to save an ongoing truce.

The ceasefire "is not yet fully guaranteed, there can still be a military escalation," he said.

The new ceasefire in Ukraine's east has stilled much of the fighting that had rumbled on in hotspots despite the February truce deal.

It is the latest attempt to stop a conflict that has killed some 8,000 people since April 2014 and left almost 18,000 wounded, according to UN figures.

Russia portrays its western neighbour's conflict as a civil war in which it has played no part.

© 2015 AFP

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