DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukraine's prime minister on Friday told leaders in the country's restive east that he is committed to allowing regions to have more powers, but left it unclear how his ideas differ from the demands of protesters now occupying government buildings or from Russia's advocacy of federalization.
The officials who met Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Donetsk did not include representatives of the protesters. The officials asked Yatsenyuk to allow referenda on autonomy for their regions, but not on secession.
"There are no separatists among us," said Gennady Kernes, mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, where protesters had occupied a government building earlier in the week.
Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland was the support base for Kremlin-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in February after months of protests. Last month, the Crimea region voted to secede and was annexed by Russia.