Ukraine's president yesterday offered parts of the separatist east of his country limited self-rule for three years under the terms of a peace plan reached with Russia.
Petro Poroshenko's official website said the pro-Western leader told top lawmakers the proposal would be part of a broader deal with the pro-Moscow rebels. He intended to formally submit it to parliament today.
The bill further permits the regions to "strengthen good neighbourly relations" between local authorities and their counterparts in Russia. Poroshenko had promised to offer parts of the war-torn industrial east broader autonomy under the terms of a truce signed with the Kremlin and two separatist leaders on September 5. He urged parliamentary faction leaders yesterday to quickly back his efforts to end five months of fighting that have killed more than 2,700 people and forced more than half a million from their homes.
Poroshenko said his proposals guaranteed "the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of our state".
Russia's ruling party, meanwhile, headed to a convincing victory in Crimea polls yesterday, with a preliminary count showing it won more than 70 percent in the first local elections since the peninsula's annexation from Ukraine in March.
Crimea's residents joined Russians across the country in voting in local elections on Sunday which saw President Vladimir Putin cement his grip on power.
While the vote will not add legitimacy to Crimea in the eyes of the West or Ukraine, Kremlin-friendly analysts said it shows that Crimea's residents conclusively backed joining Russia.