MOSCOW: Russia's President Vladimir Putin has dismissed claims that Russian special forces are in eastern Ukraine as "nonsense."
Speaking Thursday in a televised call-in show with the nation, Putin said that people in eastern Ukraine have risen against the authorities in Kiev ignoring their rights and legitimate demands.
Putin said that the government's decision to use the military to uproot the protests in the east was a "crime."
A wave of protests, which Ukraine and the West said was organized by Russia and involved Russian special forces, have swept eastern Ukraine over the past weeks, with gunmen seizing government offices and police stations in at least 10 cities.
Putin rejected the claims of Russian involvement, saying that the government in Kiev should engage in a dialogue with protesters.