Pro-Russian activists reinforce a barricade in front of the security service headquarters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV
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Ukraine said Wednesday that pro-Russian militants had freed 56 "hostages" after US and EU diplomats set up their first direct talks with Moscow and Kiev aimed at resolving the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War.Ukraine's SBU security service said the group walked free from its headquarters in Lugansk after separatists seized the building and other key government offices at the weekend in the mainly Russian-speaking eastern industrial heartland.US and EU diplomats also crucially agreed with Moscow that it was time to deescalate the worst European security crisis in decades by setting up a four-way round of negotiations involving Kiev next week.The SBU said Wednesday that 56 people had walked free thanks to two rounds of negotiations led by unidentified lawmakers from Ukraine's parliament.Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stressed that the "anti-terrorist operation" in cities along Russia's border continued.
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