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Ukraine Gov't Ratifies EU Pact         09/16 06:22

   Ukraine's parliament ratified an agreement to deepen economic and political 
ties with the European Union on Tuesday, and passed legislation to grant 
autonomy to the rebellious east as part of a peace deal.

   DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's parliament ratified an agreement to 
deepen economic and political ties with the European Union on Tuesday, and 
passed legislation to grant autonomy to the rebellious east as part of a peace 
deal.

   The ratification vote draws a line under the issue that last year sparked 
Ukraine's crisis, which resulted in the ousting of the president, the 
annexation of Crimea by Russia and a war with the Russia-backed separatists 
that has killed more than 2,600 people.

   Earlier in the day, the parliament in closed session approved two bills on 
granting greater autonomy to the rebellious regions in the east as well as 
amnesty for most of those involved in the fighting. The bills are part of a 
tenuous peace process that saw a cease-fire called on Sept. 5 but that has been 
repeatedly violated.

   The city council in Donetsk says three people were killed in shelling 
overnight.

   The EU association agreement was long sought by Ukrainians who want their 
country to turn westward and out of Russia's sphere of influence. After 
then-President Viktor Yanukovych shelved the deal last year, protests broke out 
that eventually spiraled into violence and led to Yanukovych fleeing the 
country.

   In the wake of that, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and a 
pro-Russia rebellion broke out in eastern Ukraine.

   Ukrainian forces in April launched a military operation to put down the 
rebellion, which it claims gets substantial support including troops and 
equipment from Russia.

   Just before the ratification vote, President Petro Poroshenko told the 
parliament that Ukrainians who died in the protests and in the eastern fighting 
"have died not only for their motherland. They gave up their lives for us to 
take a dignified place among the European family."


(KA)


 
 
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