Ukraine, Russia agree to hold elections this year: French FM

Paris, March 4 (IANS) The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany on Thursday agreed that elections should be held in eastern Ukraine by the end of June, French top diplomat Jean-Marc Ayrault said.

“We (the four ministers) have underlined the importance of the adoption of an electoral law to hold local elections by the end of the first semester of 2016,” Xinhua quoted Ayrault as saying.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin stressed the necessity of providing security in the run-up to the future elections.

The foreign ministers also called for “the release and exchange of all prisoners and people held in illegal detention between now and April 30,” according to Ayrault.

The Paris meeting was part of the implementation of the Minsk peace agreement, signed in February 2015 in the capital of Belrus under the mediation of France and Germany.

The accord calls for a ceasefire along with a range of political, economic and social measures to end the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern half.

According to the agreement, the elections in eastern Ukraine should be “held in accordance with relevant Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) standards and monitored by the OSCE.”

The crisis in eastern Ukraine began in April 2014, when Kiev launched offensives against insurgents in a bid to retake the cities and towns they seized. The conflict has claimed more than 9,000 lives so far.

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