April 21 - Ukrainian separatists in Slaviansk reject calls to lay down their arms, as a European mediator visits the rebel-held city. Nathan Frandino reports.
With the flag of self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" proudly on display, pro-Russian rebels remain in control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk. The rebel-held city has emerged as one of several cities and towns demanding autonomy and even independence from Kiev. On Monday, the city received its first visit from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The OSCE was there to meet with the city's separatist leader. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OSCE MEDIATOR, MARK ETHERINGTON, SAYING: "We discussed four issues: One, whether he and the groups he leads would comply with the provisions of the Geneva statement; two, the whereabouts and circumstances of detainees including former mayor (Nelly) Shtepa; three, the alleged maltreatment of the Roma minority in Slaviansk and the shooting incident in the town of the 20th of April." The shooting on April 20 left at least three men dead at a checkpoint manned by armed separatists. At a news conference, the leader and self-declared mayor said the OSCE meeting did not involve any serious talks. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SELF-DECLARED MAYOR OF EAST UKRAINIAN CITY OF SLAVIANSK, VYACHESLAV PONOMARYOV, SAYING: "Talks, I would not say they were talks, we just met. We expressed our point of view on what's going on, we listened to their suggestions, well, we decided that we will continue working." He also rejected an internationally-brokered agreement in Geneva last week, which calls for separatists to lay down their arms.