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Ukraine

Separatists in Ukraine reject ceasefire as UN cites rise in killings

Pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine have rejected Kyiv's ceasefire and vowed to continue their campaign to join Russia. A UN report has cited hundreds dead in the ongoing violence.

A top commander in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic dismissed President Petro Poroshenko's idea for a ceasefire ahead of peace talks as "meaningless."

"We are only interested in seeing the occupying forces leave our land," Denis Pushilin told Moscow's Dozhd television on Wednesday.

Poroshenko announced the ceasefire after talks on Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The peace plan begins with my order for a unilateral ceasefire," Poroshenko said in Kyiv on Wednesday. "We expect that disarmament of military groups and restoration of order will take place right after it."

Ukraine's acting defense minister, Mykhailo Koval, said the ceasefire order would be issued "literally within days."

UN monitors' report

A report with data from 34 monitors with the United Nations human rights office in the region said at least 356 people, including 257 civilians, have been killed since May 7. There have been more than 200 reports of torture and 81 people were being held as of June 7.

"We're talking about a reign of fear, if not a reign of terror, in those pocket areas," Gianni Magazzeni, head of the human rights office's European department said on Wednesday.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said in the report that a "climate of insecurity and fear" has displaced 34,000 people, nearly half in Ukraine's eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have declared independence from Kyiv.

"The escalation in criminal activity resulting in human rights abuses is no longer limited to targeting journalists, elected representatives, local politicians, civil servants and civil society activists," according to the report.

"Abductions, detentions, acts of ill-treatment and torture, and killings by armed groups are now affecting the broader population of the two eastern regions."

jm/kms (AP, AFP, dpa)

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