Conflict & Justice

Protesters reject the agreement between Ukraine and Russia


A pro-Russian armed man guards the city council building in the regional capital Donetsk April 16, 2014.


Mikhail Maslovsky/Reuters

Ukraine and Russia have agreed to take tentative steps toward calming tensions along their shared border.

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The deal calls for disarming all paramilitary groups and the immediate return of all government buildings seized across the country. But the pro-Russian protesters who have occupied government buildings said Friday they will not leave.

"They’re not going anywhere," said the CBC's Derek Stoffel. "They continue their occupation of the main regional government building in Donetsk."

Stoffel spoke with protesters at one of the makeshift camps.

"They’ve erected this large barricade with tires and scrap metal, pretty much anything they could find. They let us inside the barricade, where leaders were talking on the stage. Keep up the fight was the message," he added.

The refusal to budge came despite an unexpected diplomatic breakthrough Thursday worked out between leaders representing Kiev, Moscow, Washington and Brussels following talks in Geneva. The surprise agreement called for "all illegal armed groups" to disarm and leave seized state buildings and squares.

In return, protesters would receive amnesty for actions over the past two weeks that brought Ukraine close to civil war. But there was no movement by protesters on Friday. In comments to various media outlets, leaders of the protest groups said Moscow didn't represent them — and couldn't make an agreement on their behalf.

"I’ve seen a fair number of guns, I’ve seen lots of knives whether it’s metal rods, wooden sticks, things like that ... one man I spoke to said he will not give up his metal rod — that he was not about hand it over to anyone on the Ukrainian side," Stoffel said.