Ukraine officials say 300 feared dead in Mariupol theater strike

Ukraine officials say 300 feared dead in Mariupol theater strike

Dozens of Ukrainian officials, journalists and activists have been detained or kidnapped by Russian forces, the United Nations has warned.

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) in Kyiv said it had documented the arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of 22 Ukrainian officials. It said 13 were later released.

The UN body’s representative in Ukraine Matilda Bogner said some of the cases resembled “hostage-taking.”

She said 15 journalists and civil society activists are among those taken, along with the mayor of Ukraine’s southern city of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov.

Fedorov was held for several days by occupying Russian forces before being freed.

Seven journalists have been killed since the invasion began on February 24, the OHCHR said.

Ukraine: Cease-fire talks with Russia still ‘difficult’

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says peace talks with Russia remain difficult, denying reports that four out of six key issues were close to being resolved.

“There is no consensus with Russia on the four points,” he said in a post on Facebook, adding that the Ukrainian delegation has “taken a strong position and does not relinquish its demands. We insist, first of all, on a cease-fire, security guarantees and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky earlier said that the two countries were coming closer to an understanding on secondary questions, but that there has been limited progress on the key matters.

“Negotiations have been going on all week, from Monday to Friday, in video conference format, and will continue tomorrow,” Russian news agency Interfax quoted Medinsky as saying. “On secondary issues, positions are converging. However on the main political issues, we are in fact treading water.”

He said that he believed Ukraine was deliberately stalling the talks.

Russia says it is seeking a comprehensive deal on a range of issues, and if that is not achieved then an agreement is unlikely.

Earlier Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said progress had been made in negotiations and called on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to make an “honorable exit” from Ukraine.

Ankara sees itself as a mediator in the conflict and Erdogan has mooted the idea of talks between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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