Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks to media during his press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Ukraine on Tuesday signed much-anticipated accords with separatists from the country's east, Russia and European monitors that agree a local election can be held in separatist-controlled territory, paving the way for peace talks with Moscow. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Protesters in Ukraine rally against election in rebel east

October 06, 2019 - 3:43 am

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Thousands are rallying in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv against the president's plan to hold a local election in the country's rebel-held east, a move seen by some as a major concession to Russia.

Ukraine, Russia and mediators Germany and France on Tuesday signed a tentative agreement with Russia-backed separatists on guidelines for holding a local election in eastern Ukraine, where a five-year conflict between the separatists and Ukrainian troops has killed more than 13,000 people.

Ukraine's newly elected President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has cast the deal as a necessary intermediate step ahead of organizing a summit with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany to push for a peaceful settlement.

But participants in Sunday's rally denounced the move as a capitulation to Russia, which has backed the separatists.