Ukraine agrees to local elections in separatist eastern region

Ukraine agrees to local elections in separatist eastern region
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Ukraine’s government this week agreed to a snap local election in its eastern region, which is controlled by separatist factions, according to The Associated Press.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a briefing that Ukraine reached the agreement after a meeting with the Russian-backed separatists and Russian and European monitors. The separatists have controlled the region since 2014.

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Zelensky denied bowing to Russian demands and said full elections would not be held until Ukraine fully regains control of its border with Russia, according to the AP.

“There won’t be any elections under the barrel of a gun,” he said Tuesday. “There won’t be any elections there if the troops are still there.”

Under the agreement, the Russia-backed separatists and government forces agreed to pull back troops from two sites in the Luhansk and Dontesk regions next week, according to the news service.

The president said all candidates and political parties should be eligible, in compliance with Ukrainian law, historically a major bone of contention with Ukrainian separatists, who have rejected allowing nationalist Ukrainian parties to participate.

Zelensky said the Ukrainian government and separatists agreed that both sides will treat the election as valid if they are certified free and fair by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, according to the AP.

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