Death Of A Local Politician Escalates Tension In Ukraine

United Nations
The death of a Ukrainian politician has escalated tension with the acting president Oleksander Turchinov calling government forces to re-launch an offensive against pro-Russian rebels.

“These crimes are being carried out with the full support and indulgence of the Russian Federation,” he said. “I call on the security agencies to re-launch and carry out effective anti-terrorist measures, with the aim of protecting Ukrainian citizens living in eastern Ukraine from terrorists.”

In an appeal that may complicate European efforts to mediate the crisis, Turchinov said two “brutally tortured” bodies had been found near Slaviansk, the objective of the failed Ukrainian army offensive. One was that of Volodymyr Rybak, a member of Turchinov’s Batkivshchyna party, who had recently been abducted by “terrorists”, he said in a statement.

Kiev’s first push failed last week to retake one of the towns in the mainly Russian-speaking east occupied by the separatists, and its military has largely suspended operations since the United States, Russia, Ukraine and European Union signed a deal in Geneva last week intended to calm the crisis.

The agreement, however, is already in trouble, with Washington and Moscow putting the onus on each other to ensure that it is implemented, including a stipulation that the rebels must disarm and leave the government buildings they have occupied.

Police said the body of a man who had suffered a violent death had been found in a river. It resembled Rybak, a local councillor in the town of Horlivka, near the regional capital of Donetsk, but formal identification would need further work, they added.

Batkivshchyna is led by Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister who is running in a presidential election scheduled for May 25.

Ukraine’s poorly resourced forces had previously shown little sign of taking on the gunmen who started occupying towns and public buildings two weeks ago. Turchinov’s call may not lead to much more action but could fuel recriminations between Moscow and Kiev about who is failing to honour the deal.

US Vice-President Joe Biden told Russia that time is short for action on defusing the crisis, but Moscow refused to budge saying it could handle any tougher economic sanctions the West might impose.
The United States has repeatedly warned Russia it faces “mounting costs” if it fails to ensure full implementation of the Geneva agreement.

But the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, ruled out rapid progress. “Of course, it would be naive to suppose that all this could happen quickly.”

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