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Ukraine offers devolution as pro-Russian separatists vow to continue protests

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Ukraine offers devolution as pro-Russian separatists vow to continue protests

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A day after an international deal in Geneva to defuse the crisis in Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists who have taken over public buildings around Donetsk vowed to continue their occupation in pursuit of a Crimea-style referendum on union with Russia.

Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov made a formal joint broadcast pledging to devolve power to the regions.

“The Ukrainian government is ready to conduct a comprehensive constitutional reform that will secure powers of the regions,” said the prime minister.

He added: “We will give a special status to the Russian language and will defend it.”

The Geneva agreement requires all illegal armed groups to disarm and end occupations of public buildings, streets and squares.

Ukraine’s foreign minister warned that militants in the east could face “more concrete actions” after the Easter weekend if they failed to give up buildings.

The self-declared leader of all the eastern separatists said he did not consider his men to be bound by the agreement.

Washington threatened further sanctions on Moscow if the stalemate continued.