Breakaway east ‘no longer’ part of Ukraine, says rebel leader

A rebel leader today dismissed Kiev giving the separatist east limited self-rule, saying Ukraine's eastern Donbass region was no longer part of the ex-Soviet country.

"Complete self-rule will be introduced in Donbass, this territory no longer has anything to do with Ukraine," Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said.

"Ukraine is free to adopt any law it wants. But we are not planning any federalism with Ukraine."

Ukrainian lawmakers had adopted legislation Tuesday giving the separatist east limited self-rule under government proposals aimed at ending the deadly insurgency.

President Petro Poroshenko has said the proposals will pave the way for decentralisation while guaranteeing "the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence" of Ukraine.

Purgin said rebels "will carefully study" legislation, adding "it is a positive signal because it marks Kiev's return to reality.

"We will probably hold dialogue over some points, in particular in economic, social and cultural spheres," he said.

Pro-Russian separatists have fought the authorities in Kiev since April in a bid to split from Ukraine and gain independence.

Kiev and the West accuse Russia of masterminding the revolt and sending in regular troops to prop up separatists and carve out a pro-Moscow statelet in Ukraine. – AFP, September 16, 2014.