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KIEV, Ukraine – Ukraine's parliament has made the first step toward devolving more powers to separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine.
The conflict between Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian government troops has killed more than 6,400 people since fighting there began in April last year.
An armistice signed in February calls for a political resolution in the region including a constitutional reform that will give all Ukrainian regions — and the east specifically — more powers.
Presenting the bill on Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko insisted that the changes he is proposing would not turn Ukraine into a federation, which the rebels originally sought. He says that along with giving more powers to local authorities throughout the country, the bill allows broader autonomy in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.