Ukrainian riot policemen adjust their gear as pro-Kiev protesters hold a rally in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine April 17, 2014. REUTERS/Marko Djurica
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Armed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Friday they were not bound by an international deal ordering them to disarm and would not move out of public buildings they have seized until the Kiev government stepped down.The agreement, brokered by the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union in Geneva on Thursday, seemed to be the best hope of defusing a stand-off in Ukraine that has dragged East-West relations to their lowest level since the Cold War. The Geneva agreement requires all illegal armed groups to disarm and end occupations of public buildings, streets and squares, but with the separatists staying put in the east and Ukrainian nationalist protesters showing no sign of leaving their -- unarmed -- camps in the capital's Maidan Square, it was not clear that either side would be willing to move first.Kiev also said the government was preparing a law that would give the separatists an amnesty if they backed down.The self-declared leader of all the region's separatists said he did not consider his men to be bound by the agreement. President Barack Obama said the meeting in Geneva between Russia, Ukraine and Western powers was promising but that the United States and its allies were prepared to impose more sanctions on Russia if the situation fails to improve.Ukraine's government promises to devolve power to the regions and protect people's rights, notably in the east, to use the Russian language in public life.
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