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Separatists vote for leader in breakaway eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists will vote to set up a breakaway regional leadership in the eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk and Luhansk aiming to take their war-torn region closer to Russia and defying Kiev and the West as the big guns still boom across the territory.

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Putin: 'No Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine'

Vladimir Putin has denied any Russian involvement in the unrest in eastern Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin speaking on Russian television this morning Credit: RTV

Speaking during a televised phone-in on Russian television, the President said there were "no special forces, no instructors" from Russia in eastern Ukraine and that those taking up arms were "all local people".

He also called for "dialogue" between pro-Russian elements in the east of the country and the authorities in Kiev.

Mr Putin also struck a conciliatory tone, saying that Russia and Ukraine "share an enormous number of interests and if we want to be successful we must work together".

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