A rebel leader in eastern Ukraine has accused the Kiev government of blocking a political solution for the conflict that has claimed more than 6,000 lives.

Andrei Purgin said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that the Minsk deal, brokered by Western leaders in February, has been "blocked" by Kiev's decision not to grant the area autonomy.

The Russia-backed rebels insist on independence from Ukraine. But they have also pushed for the Ukrainian government to pass legislation granting a wide autonomy to the region.

The Ukrainian parliament passed such a bill earlier this month but put its implementation on hold until a local election is held there under Ukrainian laws, in line with the Minsk agreements.