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Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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 firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “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.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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 firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “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.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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 firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “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.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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 firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “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.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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 firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “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.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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 firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “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.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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 firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “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.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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 firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “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.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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 firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “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.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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 firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “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.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn’t negotiate with those he called “gangsters and killers” and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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 firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, “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.

“At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks),” said Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. “Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated. Federalization would make regions more independent of the central government.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

He also promised an additional $48 million in US aid to Ukraine to carry out economic and constitutional reforms and strengthen the border guard service. Washington previously announced $50 million in “crisis response” aid and $23 million for security assistance.

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “the free use of the Russian language.”

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — 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.

Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, said “At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks). Perhaps with security, a company so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “new opportunities for the Russian language,” without giving specifics.

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — 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.

Denis Pushilin, a top figure in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, said “At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks). Perhaps with security, a company so people won’t tear him to pieces.”

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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to an interpreter. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated.

Biden later met with Poroshenko and said “there is a window for peace and you know as well as anyone that it will not stay open indefinitely … America is with you.”

Poroshenko also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “new opportunities for the Russian language,” without giving specifics.

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

The protests against Yanukovych were set off by his decision to shelve a long-anticipated agreement to deepen political and economic ties with the European Union and seek closer relations with Russia. The protests grew hugely after police violently dispersed some early gatherings.

Poroshenko said Saturday he wants to sign the economic portion of the EU “association agreement” in the near future.

No major fighting was reported on Saturday, but the Donetsk People’s Republic said one of Pushilin’s aides was fatally shot in Donetsk city, the region’s capital.

Also Saturday, Russian officials including the ambassador and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu complained that two journalists from a TV channel belonging to the ministry had been detained by national guard forces in Ukraine and called for their release.

Jim Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — 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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marci Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to a translator. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated.

He also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “new opportunities for the Russian language,” without giving specifics.

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — 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.

As president, the 48-year-old Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marci Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to a translator. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated.

He also said he would seek early parliamentary elections because “the current composition of the parliament is not consistent with the aspirations of the nation.” The current parliament, elected in 2012 with a large contingent from Yanukovych’s former party, is to stay in place until 2017.

Poroshenko insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “new opportunities for the Russian language,” without giving specifics.

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

Heintz reported from Moscow.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — 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.

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,” RIA Novosti reported.

As president, Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

The 48-year-old Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marci Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to a translator. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated.

Poroshenko also insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “new opportunities for the Russian language,” without giving specifics.

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — 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.

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,” RIA Novosti reported.

As president, Poroshenko is commander-in-chief of the military and appoints the defense and foreign ministers. The prime minister is appointed by the parliament.

The 48-year-old Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25. He replaces Oleksandr Turchynov, who served as interim president after Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In his inaugural address, attended by dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, Sen. John McCain and Democratic Rep. Marci Kaptur, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to a translator. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has advocated.

Poroshenko also insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “new opportunities for the Russian language,” without giving specifics.

He assumed power a day after meeting Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

After the low-key inauguration ceremony, which included a choir in traditional national costume singing the national anthem, Poroshenko went to the square outside the landmark Sophia Cathedral for a ceremonial troop inspection.

Taras Danchuk, a 37-year-old spectator at the square who was wearing a traditional embroidered tunic, said he supported Poroshenko’s strategy for trying to negotiate an end the eastern conflict.

“Out of emotion I would like to say that we should destroy the terrorists, but that is not possible without sacrificing the civilians who live there, so there will have to be negotiations,” he said.

Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — 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 spoke in parliament after taking the oath of office and assumed leadership of a country mired in an uprising, severe economic troubles and tensions with its giant neighbor Russia.

The 48-year-old Poroshenko, often called “The Chocolate King” because of the fortune he made as a confectionery tycoon, was elected May 25 and replaces an interim leader who had been in office since Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests against him.

The fall of Yanukovych aggravated long-brewing tensions in eastern and southern Ukraine, whose majority native Russian speakers denounced the new government as a nationalist putsch that aimed to suppress them.

Within a month, the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia after a secession referendum and an armed insurgency arose in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukrainian forces are fighting the insurgents in those regions and officials say more than 200 people have been killed.

Ukraine accuses Russia of fomenting the unrest.

In his inaugural address, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands – please lay down your arms,” he said, according to a translator. He also called for early regional elections in the east and promised to push for new powers to be allotted to regional governments, but he rejected calls for federalization of Ukraine, which Moscow has called for.

Poroshenko also insisted that Ukrainian would remain the sole state language of the country, but promised “new opportunities for the Russian language,” without giving specifics.

He assumed power a day after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Despite the outreach to Putin, Poroshenko said he will not accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

“Crimea was, is and will be Ukrainian. There will be no trade-off,” Poroshenko said.

Russia annexed the territory in March after its troops took control of the Black Sea peninsula and Crimea held a secession referendum that Kiev and Western countries regard as illegitimate.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Petro Poroshenko took the oath of office as Ukraine’s president Saturday, calling on armed groups to lay down their weapons as he assumed leadership of a country mired in a violent uprising and economic troubles.

In his inaugural address to the Verkhovna Rada, the country’s parliament, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands.” That appeared to apply both to separatist, pro-Russia insurgents in the country’s east and to nationalist groups that oppose them.

Poroshenko also promised dialogue with citizens in the eastern regions, but excluded the insurgents. “Talking to gangsters and killers is not our avenue,” he said, according to a translator. He also called for early regional elections in the east.

He assumed power a day after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Despite the outreach to Putin, Poroshenko said he will not accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

“Crimea is, was and will be Ukrainian. There will be no trade-off,” Poroshenko said.

Russia annexed the territory in March after its troops took control of the Black Sea peninsula and Crimea held a secession referendum that Kiev and Western countries regard as illegitimate.

Poroshenko, who became a billionaire as a candy tycoon, was elected on May 25, three months after the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in the wake of months of street protests.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine’s president

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Petro Poroshenko took the oath of office as Ukraine’s president Saturday, calling on armed groups to lay down their weapons as he assumed leadership of a country mired in a violent uprising and economic troubles.

In his inaugural address to the Verkhovna Rada, the country’s parliament, Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands.” That appeared to apply both to separatist, pro-Russia insurgents in the country’s east and to nationalist groups that oppose them.

Poroshenko also promised dialogue with citizens in the eastern regions, but excluded the insurgents. “Talking to gangsters and killers is not our avenue,” he said, according to a translator. He also called for early regional elections in the east.

He assumed power a day after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at D-Day commemoration ceremonies in France.

Despite the outreach to Putin, Poroshenko said he will not accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

“Crimea is, was and will be Ukrainian. There will be no trade-off,” Poroshenko said.

Russia annexed the territory in March after its troops took control of the Black Sea peninsula and Crimea held a secession referendum that Kiev and Western countries regard as illegitimate.

Poroshenko, who became a billionaire as a candy tycoon, was elected on May 25, three months after the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in the wake of months of street protests.

Putin has denied allegations by Kiev and the West that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted Friday that Poroshenko needs to speak directly to representatives from the east.

Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.