April 10 - Ukraine's government takes a softer stance with separatist protesters in the east by offering an amnesty, but some activists reject the offer saying the offer has to also come with referendums for independence. Mana Rabiee reports.
In Ukraine's eastern city of Luhansk, pro-Russian protesters reinforced their barricades on Thursday. They're separatists, holed up in a handful of government buildings across several eastern cities for four days now. They're demanding regional referendums on independence and closer ties to neighboring Russia. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN ON STAGE SAYING: "Russia will never leave us in trouble. I also want to call on Putin to help us, the southeast of Ukraine. Those who don't want help should go to the west." The central government in Kiev thinks the separatist crisis in its east could become a pretext for Russia to invade. Acting President Oleksander Turchinov says his government is ready to immediately consider more self-rule for local councils. And willing to grant protesters amnesty. SOUNDBITE (Ukrainian) ACTING UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT OLEKSANDER TURCHINOV, SAYING: "We guarantee there will be no criminal prosecution of people who give up their weapons and leave the buildings, and I'm ready to do this by presidential order. I think that calm and peace in the country are more important than political ambitions and political conflict." But in Donetsk, which separatists have declared a people's republic, activists rejected Kiev's offer. They say they won't accept amnesty without a referendum for independence, too. And their leaders are unmoved by Kiev's ultimatum to end their occupation or face possible force. SOUNDBITE) (Russian) MEMBER OF SELF-PROCLAIMED DONETSK INTERIM GOVERNMENT, DENIS PUSHILIN, SAYING: "I must admit we are starting to get used to that, to life under constant threat, but neither us nor the people who support us are ready to give in and we won't give in." Ukrainian media says the Deputy Prime Minster is in Donetsk for talks with protesters. Negotiations continue, but local leaders have little hope for the outcome. They're pushing ahead with their referendum scheduled for May 11.