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More Fighting as Peace Talks Begin

They will end the shooting only when they erase us from the face of the planet.

Published: June 11, 2014 (Issue # 1815)



  • A woman walks by a gas station damaged by Mondays shelling in Slovyansk.
    Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka / AP

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) Government forces traded fire Monday with pro-Russian separatists who control an eastern Ukraine city, after the countrys new president announced daily negotiations were underway toward ending the conflict.

Loud booms and shelling were heard in downtown Slovyansk, where at least six buildings bore damage from shelling a day earlier. The city has been an epicenter of a nearly two-month standoff between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels, who have seized administrative buildings, police stations and border posts across the region.

The clashes came a day after President Petro Poroshenko announced that negotiations had started in Kiev between Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE.

Poroshenko said the meeting focused on strengthening the porous Ukraine-Russia border, and said Ukraine must cease fire by the end of this week. While he promised the negotiators would meet daily until the crisis was resolved, he did not say whether results had been achieved on Sunday.

The OSCE, whose rotating presidency is currently held by Switzerland, said Heidi Tagliavini, a Swiss diplomat who has worked on crises in places like Chechnya and Georgia, was its representative in the negotiations. Poroshenkos office said Russias ambassador to Ukraine and the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany also took part.

On Monday, Ukraines acting defense minister, Mykhailo Koval, told journalists that Poroshenko was working toward bringing the conflict to an end in the quickest time period, according to the Interfax news agency. He did not give a specific date. Russia has repeatedly called for Ukraine to end its operation in the east, while Ukraine has blamed Russia for fomenting tensions in the region and backing the rebels materially.

Fighting resumed Monday in Slovyansk, where residents said at least six buildings including a petrol station, two shopping centers and two apartment buildings had been hit by mortars a day earlier.

Andriy, a local plainclothes policeman who wouldnt give his last name, was standing with other officers in uniform near the debris.

Yesterday the center of the city was hit the hardest, he said. There were a lot of injured people, and a lot of buildings were hit that havent been hit before.

Dozens of cars carrying civilians were seen leaving the city by road, and a bus with a sign in the windshield reading children left the city on Monday. The UN Refugee Agency estimated in late May that at least 10,000 people in Ukraine were internal refugees, a figure that has undoubtedly grown as both Ukrainian and Russian sides dig in. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that his government was providing aid to Ukrainian refugees within Russia, who he previously estimated to number about 4,000.

They will end the shooting only when they erase us from the face of the planet, when nothing remains here but a flat space, said Svetlana, a 52-year-old resident of Slovyansk who would not give her last name. Only then the war will be finished.

Rebels have held the Ukrainian government responsible for the rising number of civilian casualties in the conflict, while the Kiev leadership says the insurgents have attacked civilians in order to foment resentment against the government.

Government officials say at least 200 people most of whom were civilians have been killed in the conflict so far.

The spokesman for Ukraines operation in the east, Vladislav Seleznev, wrote on Facebook late Sunday that the separatists were responsible for the shelling in Slovyansk.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, July 31


Develop your leadership abilities during a lecture by famous Russian author and coach Radislav Gandapas. The event starts at 9 a.m. at 5 Lodeinopolskaya Ulitsa. The price for entry is 20,500 rubles ($570).


Relax and enjoy a Parisian atmosphere with some romantic and laidback jazz tunes during the Night of French Music at Lenny Jam Cafe, 63 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 250 rubles ($7).


The Womens Business Club is hosting a Beauty Brunch where participants are invited to discuss the latest news in the beauty industry and listen to lectures by professional stylists in the business.



Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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