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Friday, August 22, 2014, 12:59 p.m.
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Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine's president

By The Associated Press

This article was published June 7, 2014 at 9:06 a.m.

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine's new president on Saturday called for dialogue with the country's east, gripped by a violent separatist insurgency, and for armed groups to lay down their weapons but said he won't talk with rebels he called "gangsters and killers."

Petro Poroshenko's inaugural address after taking the oath of office in parliament gave little sign of a quick resolution to the conflict in the east, which Ukrainian officials say has left more than 200 people dead.

He also took a firm line on Russia's annexation of Crimea this spring, insisting that the Black Sea peninsula "was, is and will be Ukrainian." He gave no indication of how Ukraine could regain control of Crimea, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has said was allotted to Ukraine unjustly under Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Hours after the speech, Putin ordered security tightened along Russia's border with Ukraine to prevent illegal crossings, Russian news agencies said. Ukraine claims that many of the insurgents in the east have come from Russia; Poroshenko on Saturday said he would offer a corridor for safe passage of "Russian militants" out of the country.

Rebel leaders in the east dismissed Poroshenko's speech.

"This statement doesn't concern us," said the so-called prime minister of the insurgent Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Borodai, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

Poroshenko offered amnesty to rebels who "don't have blood on their hands." But "I don't believe it," said Valery Bolotov, the insurgent leader in the Luhansk region. Rebels in both Luhansk and Donetsk have declared their regions independent.

The new president promised "I will bring you peace," but did not indicate whether Ukrainian forces would scale back their offensives against the insurgency, which Ukraine says is fomented by Russia.

Russia has insisted on Ukraine ending its military operation in the east. Ambassador Mikhail Zurabov, representing Moscow, at the inauguration, said Poroshenko's statements "sound reassuring," but "for us the principal thing is to stop the military operation," adding that the insurgents should also stop fighting in order to bolster the delivery of humanitarian aid, RIA Novosti reported.

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