(QHA) -

"Donetsk People's Republic" leadership said Slovyansk "people's mayor" Vyacheslav Ponomaryov has indeed been "detained", BBC's Russian service reported.

Earlier, ITAR-TASS was quoting self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" boss Denis Pushilin as declining to confirm Ponomaryov's "arrest."

The reports began yesterday that separatist Ponomaryov had been deposed and seized based on a decision by "Donetsk People's Republic" commander and Russian national Igor Girkin, also known as Strelkov.

Meanwhile "Luhansk People's Republic" appealed to Russia and a handful of other countries to recognize its independence, according to ITAR-TASS quoting the separatist group's "supreme council."

Aside from Russia, the 15 countries include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, China, Serbia, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

Fierce fighting has been underway between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian rebels in southeastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Making a part of his inauguration speech in Russian language, newly-elected President called on separatists in the east to lay down their arms, saying he would guarantee indemnity from criminal charges to all those who did not have blood on their hands.


QHA