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Ukrainian president lifts objections to referendum on giving more powers to restive regions

  • Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko speaks to official in his office in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, April 6, 2015.  Poroshenko on Monday April 6, 2015, publicly lifted his objections to a referendum that could give more powers to the restive regions engulfed in more than a year of warfare, reversing his government’s previous position. (AP Photo/Mykola Lazarenko, Pool)

    Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko speaks to official in his office in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, April 6, 2015. Poroshenko on Monday April 6, 2015, publicly lifted his objections to a referendum that could give more powers to the restive regions engulfed in more than a year of warfare, reversing his government’s previous position. (AP Photo/Mykola Lazarenko, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a news conference with Madagascar's Foreign Minister Beatrice Atallah in Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 6, 2015. Speaking about the Ukraine at a televised news conference Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the reform should be held “only with the approval and agreement of Luhansk and Donetsk,” the two biggest cities under separatist control.  (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a news conference with Madagascar's Foreign Minister Beatrice Atallah in Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 6, 2015. Speaking about the Ukraine at a televised news conference Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the reform should be held “only with the approval and agreement of Luhansk and Donetsk,” the two biggest cities under separatist control. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)  (The Associated Press)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says that he does not object to a referendum that could give more powers to the restive regions engulfed in more than a year of warfare.

The conflict between Russia-backed rebels and government troops in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 6,000 lives. When it began, protesters in the east demanded a vote on giving their regions more autonomy. Such calls were rejected by the Ukrainian government at the time.

But Poroshenko on Monday met a parliamentary commission that is drafting amendments to the country's main law and said in a televised meeting that if the commission decides that such a vote is necessary he would not stand in the way of a referendum.