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Ukraine tycoon calls for action against rebels

Ukrainian businessman and oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, pictured after meeting German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, in Kiev, on May 13, 2014Mariupol (Ukraine) (AFP) – Ukraine’s richest man called Tuesday for workers to rally against the pro-Russian insurgency in the east, in an impassioned plea for an end to the bloodshed issued just days before the country’s crunch election. The appeal by billionaire powerbroker Rinat Ahkhmetov could mark a turning point in the conflict as he wields huge influence in the east as the owner of a vast coal and steel conglomerate. “People are tired of living in fear and terror,” Akhmetov said in an open letter in which he called for peace rallies in the eastern industrial belt known as Donbass. Fears for the very survival of Ukraine have mounted since armed rebels launched an uprising against Kiev’s caretaker government in April, emboldened by Russia’s much-criticised seizure of Crimea.

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