UK & World News

  • 20 April 2014, 5:50

Ukraine PM: 'Putin Has Soviet Union Dream'

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk has said he is concerned as to how far Russian President Vladimir Putin will go in what he called attempts to restore the Soviet Union.

In an interview with US network NBC, Mr Yatseniuk said: "President Putin has a dream to restore the Soviet Union. And every day, he goes further and further. And God knows where is the final destination.

"And I believe that you do remember his famous Munich speech saying that the biggest disaster of the former century is the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"I consider that the biggest disaster of this century would be the restoring of the Soviet Union under the auspices of President Putin."

Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimea last month, denies directing pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine or planning to invade.

Mr Yatseniuk also said that those behind an anti-Semitic leaflet in the eastern city of Donetsk will be held responsible.

On Monday night as Jews left a synagogue, masked men handed out fliers purported to be from pro-Russian separatists, ordering all Jews to register with them or face deportation.

Meanwhile, a mediator from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe ( OSCE) is today due to start negotiating the surrender of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Pro-Russians occupying public buildings in Donetsk and other Russian-speaking border towns refuse to recognise the international agreement made in Geneva on Thursday.

As part of the deal, Russia, Ukraine and Kiev's US and EU allies agreed that the OSCE should oversee the disarmament of militants and the evacuation of occupied buildings and streets.

Orthodox Easter is being celebrated in Ukraine and Russia, but religious leaders are locked in a war of words.

In pro-West Kiev, the head of Ukraine's Orthodox Church, Patriarch Filaret, accused Russia of being an "enemy" whose "attack" on Ukraine was doomed to failure because it was evil and contrary to God's will.

In Moscow, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Church delivered a prayer for Ukraine in which he called on God in turn to put "an end to the designs of those who want to destroy Holy Russia".

He said that while Ukraine was "politically" separate, "spiritually and historically" it was at one with Russia, and he prayed that it would benefit from authorities that are "legitimately elected".

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