Leading Ukrainian separatist says he is stepping down

by Reuters
Thursday, 14 August 2014 08:59 GMT

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MOSCOW, Aug 14 (Reuters) - The leader of the pro-Russian separatist rebels in Ukraine's Luhansk region announced his resignation on Thursday, saying he was injured and could not carry on in his role, becoming the second senior rebel to quit in the space of seven days.

Russian state-run broadcaster Rossiya 24 broadcast the statement by Valery Bolotov, head of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic.

Luhansk region, on the border with Russia, has been the scene of fighting between rebels and Ukrainian forces who are trying to re-establish central control over separatist-held areas.

Bolotov, in the comments broadcast on Russian television, said Igor Plotnitsky, defence minister of the Luhansk People's Republic, would take over from him.

His resignation means that both the main separatist entities, in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, are having leadership changes. Aleksander Borodai, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, announced on Aug. 7 that he was stepping down. (Reporting by Christian Lowe; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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