Putin slams ‘tragic’ clashes in Kiev over autonomy for rebel east

President Vladimir PutinRussian President Vladimir Putin on Friday condemned the deadly clashes that took place this week between police and nationalists in Kiev and questioned how long Ukrainians would “put up with” the instability rocking the country.

In his first public comments on the unrest, Putin lamented the “tragic events” which unfolded outside Ukraine’s parliament on Monday after a vote on granting more autonomy to regions, including two breakaway pro-Russian regions in the east.

Three National Guard members died in a grenade blast during the clashes, which the government blamed on an ultra-nationalist group.

Speaking at an international economic forum in Vladivostok, Putin was quoted by TASS state news agency as saying the violence constituted “the next enactment of the political confrontation in Ukraine”, where the ouster of a pro-Russian president in 2014 brought a pro-Western government to power.

Asked how he saw events in the former Soviet state unfolding, Putin said: “This doesn’t depend on us, this depends on Ukraine itself, on the Ukrainian people, how long the Ukrainian people will put up with this bacchanalia.”

The constitutional reforms being debated by Kiev’s parliament, which passed a first reading in parliament Monday, are part of a package of reforms required under a February peace deal between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels in the east who took up arms against Kiev after the February 2014 ouster of Russian-backed then president Viktor Yanukovych.

Putin said that it was “crucial” to give more powers to the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

He also urged Ukraine to pass a law on amnesty for combattants.

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