Russia’s Foreign Minister has called on reluctant Western nations to push Ukraine towards a “genuine, not cosmetic” constitutional reform to grant autonomy to its Russian-speaking regions.

“It is necessary to pursue genuine, rather than cosmetic constitutional reform and to stop meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs,” said Sergei Lavrov. “Otherwise it looks like the West has taken up the role of arbiter of Ukraine’s fate, while its current authorities lack any significant independence.”

Mr. Lavrov stated that the Ukrainian new leadership shows no intention of transforming the country’s unitary state into a federation.

“Ukraine’s current authorities are incapable of securing the rights of all Ukrainians, the freedoms and rights of ethnic minorities and to display credible, rather than perfunctory respect for the interests of all regions without exception,” Mr. Lavrov told reporters on Friday.

Kiev has arrested activists in the Russian-speaking regions who demanded local referendums on greater autonomy from the centre.

On Friday, the Russian Parliament accused the Ukrainian authorities of committing “political reprisals” and resorting to “physical violence” against “hundreds” of detained pro-autonomy activists.

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier this week denounced Ukraine’s reported plans to hire foreign private militaries to suppress protest movements in eastern and southern regions. It cited reports that Kiev planned to recruit the notorious Greystone Ltd to police Russian-speaking regions. Some reports said Greystone mercenaries had been deployed in Donetsk to control pro-Russian demonstrators last month. Greystone Ltd were contracted by the Pentagon for security duties in Iraq and were accused of committing atrocities.

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