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Rebels reject Ukrainian government's call to disarm

DNIPROPETROVSK, Ukraine — Pro-Russian separatists on Wednesday rejected a call to disarm during a cease-fire that Ukraine is preparing to start unilaterally within days.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the truce would be the first step of a 14-point plan to end the violence that has engulfed the east of the country for months. Acting defense minister Mykhailo Koval gave a timetable of days, while Poroshenko said only that the cease-fire would get under way "shortly."

The peace proposal includes sealing the border with Russia, disarming the insurgents, offering amnesty to those who didn't commit serious crimes and providing safe passage to rebels willing to leave the country. The president also promised to pursue constitutional amendments that would decentralize power and grant regional governments more say.

Separatists, who have been battling government forces for almost three months, rejected the offer by Poroshenko, whom they said they do not trust.

"This proposal by Poroshenko to lay down our arms is simply a tactical ploy," said Myroslav Rudenko, a spokesman for the separatists' self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, according to the Russian Interfax news agency. "If people fall for it, there will be a new mopping-up operation. We will not put our weapons away."

A pro-Russian fighter holds a gun Wednesday as the bodies of 49 Ukrainian troops who were killed when a plane was shot down near Luhansk are handed over to Ukraine officials during a brief truce.

Associated Press

A pro-Russian fighter holds a gun Wednesday as the bodies of 49 Ukrainian troops who were killed when a plane was shot down near Luhansk are handed over to Ukraine officials during a brief truce.

Rebels reject Ukrainian government's call to disarm 06/18/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 10:13pm]

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