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US slams ‘provocative’ bill to simplify citizenship procedure for southeast Ukraine

The US Department of State said on Wednesday that Russia’s bill to simplify the citizenship procedure for residents of southeastern Ukraine was "highly provocative" and will hinder the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

"President Putin’s decision creates a serious obstacle to the implementation of the Minsk agreements and the reintegration of the Donbas region," the statement reads. "Russia, through this highly provocative action, is intensifying its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity."

"This comes just three days after the Ukrainian people overwhelmingly elected Volodymyr Zelenskyy the next president of Ukraine. President-elect Zelenskyy has repeatedly expressed his readiness to engage seriously with Russia to implement the Minsk agreements, and to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed some 13,000 lives," the statement reads. "It is now up to Russia to decide whether it wants to continue to escalate tensions or meet its Minsk commitments."

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allowing the residents of several regions of southeastern Ukraine to receive Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure. According to the document, the decision has been made "in order to protect human rights and freedoms" based on generally accepted international laws.

"We have no wish to create problems for the new Ukrainian authorities but [it is impossible] to tolerate the situation where people living in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions are deprived of all possible civil rights, it is too much from the standpoint of human rights. They cannot move freely, cannot achieve their basic needs. It is a purely humanitarian matter," the Russian leader emphasized.

[Source: Itar Tass, Washington, 25Apr19]

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