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Separatists dismiss cease-fire ordered by Ukraine leader

DONETSK, Ukraine--Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's embattled east have dismissed a unilateral cease-fire ordered by President Petro Poroshenko as fake, while nine Ukrainian service members were wounded in clashes just before and after the cease-fire began.

Otherwise, no large-scale fighting had been reported Saturday, the first full day of what is to be a six-and-a-half-day stand-down by the Ukrainian military.

Poroshenko ordered the cease-fire starting at 10 p.m. Friday as a first step in a peace plan he hopes will end a conflict that has left hundreds of people dead and weighed heavily on the country's economy.

The plan includes an amnesty for fighters who lay down their arms, and a chance for them to leave the country. That is to be followed by local and parliamentary elections and a jobs program. The Kremlin — which had consistently demanded that Kiev be the first to cease-fire — dismissed the plan, saying it sounded like an ultimatum and lacked any firm offer to open talks with insurgents.

Separatist leaders have rejected the cease-fire and said they will not disarm. In Donetsk, a group of armed men gathered in the central square to take a military oath to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

Pavel Gubarev, who describes himself as the governor of the Donetsk People's Republic, claimed there was no cease-fire near Slovyansk, scene of serious clashes over the past several months.

“There is no cease-fire over there,” Gubarev said. “There is shooting all the time, and this cease-fire that Poroshenko is talking about is just fake. The Ukrainian forces are either not under his control, or he is just a liar.”

Speaking to Russian reporters in Saudi Arabia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lambasted Poroshenko's peace plan as “lacking the most important thing: an offer to start a dialog.”

Poroshenko has always ruled out negotiations with those “who have blood on their hands.”

Lavrov also said that Moscow is concerned about what it described as a “build-up of military activity” in Ukraine, RIA Novosti reported.

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A pro-Russian fighter holds a flower after taking an oath in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Saturday, June 21.

(AP)

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