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Published: Saturday March 15, 2014 MYT 7:00:04 PM
Updated: Saturday March 15, 2014 MYT 7:02:18 PM

Ukraine president blames 'Kremlin agents' for violence in east

Ukraine's acting President Oleksander Turchinov speaks with the media during a military exercise near the village of Goncharivske March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukraine's acting President Oleksander Turchinov speaks with the media during a military exercise near the village of Goncharivske March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's acting president accused "Kremlin agents" on Saturday of fomenting deadly violence in eastern cities, in one of the most direct and highest-level criticisms aimed by Kiev at President Vladimir Putin.

From his speaker's chair in parliament, interim head of state Oleksander Turchinov referred to three deaths in two incidents this week in Donetsk and Kharkiv and told opposition lawmakers: "You know as well as we do who is organising mass protests in eastern Ukraine - it is Kremlin agents who are organising and funding them, who are causing people to be murdered."

Turchinov has warned of a risk of a Russian invasion of the east following Moscow's occupation of the Crimea peninsula. Ukrainian officials have called on people in the mainly Russian-speaking cities of the industrial east not to rise to provocation that Russia might use to justify sending in troops.

(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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