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Friday, 18 April 2014 | MYT 2:30 AM

Ukraine says Putin destabilising country, wants to wreck election

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's prime minister on Thursday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of building a terrorist network in Ukraine to destabilise it and wreck its presidential election next month.

Arseny Yatseniuk launched the broadside after Putin accused the Kiev government in his annual televised phone-in of dragging Ukraine into the "abyss" and said Moscow might not recognise next month's Ukrainian election.

"Russia is playing only one game: further aggravation, further provocation, because the task, that Putin today officially announced, is to wreck the presidential election on May 25," Yatseniuk told journalists in Kiev.

"There is only one person in the world who believes that there are no Russian troops in the east of Ukraine. His name is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

"He again recounted the fairy tale that these are not his agents who he has sent here and who have created a terrorist network in Ukraine. But we have irrefutable evidence," Yatseniuk said.

The U.S. State Department also rejected Putin's comments.

"I think there are lot of things that President Putin said in that interview that defy logic; that would certainly be one of them," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a regular briefing.

Earlier, Ukraine's state security service (SBU) said it was holding in detention about 10 Russian citizens, all of whom have intelligence backgrounds. They were being questioned, said an SBU spokeswoman.

Putin on Thursday acknowledged that Moscow responded to the overthrow of its ally, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, in February by sending Russian forces to help seize Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and annexing it shortly afterwards.

The Ukrainian government has accused Moscow of being behind the take-over of public buildings in at least 10 east Ukrainian cities by pro-Russian separatists, a charge Putin again denied.

Ukrainian, Russian and Western diplomats were on Thursday in Geneva for talks to try to resolve the crisis. Yatseniuk said that the collapse of trust between Moscow and Kiev would make progress difficult.

"I don't have excessive expectations for the simple reason that I don't trust the Russian side," Yatseniuk said. "Nothing that they (the Russians) say corresponds to reality and everything that they show (on television) is propaganda and lies."

(Writing by Conor Humphries; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Richard Balmforth, John Stonestreet and Andrew Hay)


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