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Pro-Russian insurgents retreat in Ukraine’s east
Standoff » Ukraine’s richest man reported to be the force behind the developments.

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Associated Press journalists saw two steelworker patrols Friday afternoon. One consisted of two policemen and six workers patrolling a major avenue on foot; the other consisted of two policemen and three workers driving around town.

Steelworker Alexander Zhigula said the volunteered to help because "someone has to bring order back to the streets."

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"The city is sick of crime and chaos," he said. "People can finally see that they’ve got someone to rely on."

Valentyna Tochilina, a 47-year-old resident, said she was relieved to see the insurgents disappear from the streets.

"For the first time (in weeks), I can go out shopping without fear," she said.

In other areas in eastern Ukraine, however, the pro-Russia insurgents were fortifying their territories.

Outside the strategic city of Slovyansk, an insurgent stronghold for more than a month now, armed separatists installed a new checkpoint on the eastern approaches to the city. That checkpoint blocks a major highway that links Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city — with the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don across the border.

Associated Press journalists saw several dozen heavily armed men fortifying the new checkpoint with concrete slabs, helped by residents.

In Kiev, Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Friday urged residents of the eastern regions to stop helping the separatists and support the central government.

"You’ve got to support the anti-terrorist operation so that we could defeat terrorists and separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk regions together," he told the parliament. "The actions of the terrorists are threatening lives and welfare of the people."

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Kiev on Wednesday launched the first round of European-brokered talks to solve the crisis, but it brought little visible results since the insurgents haven’t been invited. The insurgents in their turn insisted that they will agree to the negotiations only if they focus on the withdrawal of the Ukrainian troops and the recognition of their independent state.

The next round of talks will be held in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Saturday, which has not seen major insurgent activity, the government announced late Friday.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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