Russia, Donetsk and Luhansk republics reject Ukrainian proposal to amend Constitution

Moscow claims amendment was not agreed with Russian-backed republics' representatives, in violation of Minsk II provisions · The proposal grants new, limited powers to local self-government units

The Russian Federation and the two self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR and LPR) have rejected a proposal introduced earlier this week by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to amend the Ukrainian Constitution in order to give more autonomy to bodies of local self-government. The two Donbass republics believe the proposal is a fraude because according to them it does not conform to the Minsk II Agreement, signed in February by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France.

The constitutional amendment will increase self-government powers of autonomous local units in Ukraine, including the introduction of the principle of subsidiarity and the possibility that the units can pass acts in their territories.

But Russia says Ukraine has not incorporated the views of the DPR and the RPL constitutional amendment: "[The Ukrainians] absolutely ignore the [republics'] proposals on all issues of political reform," Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin argued.

Point 11 of the agreement states that Minsk II constitutional reform should include "a reference to the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, agreed with the representatives of these areas." Such a reference cannot be found in the version of the amendment as published in English by the Venice Commission.

Reacting to this, DPR leader Alexandr Zakhartxenko announced his republic would be holding local elections on 18 October: "The Donetsk People's Republic has to independently start to implement the Minsk agreements in order to rescue them," he said. "We will begin acting immediately, without waiting for Kyiv to come to its senses and return to real, not fake, talks," he added.

Meanwhile, sporadic infighting continues on the frontline. From the start of the war last year, 6,500 people have died, according to UN data. More than 1.3 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, and more than 900,000 have taken refuge abroad -most of them are people from the Donbass having fled to Russia.