MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending an envoy to Ukraine to try to mediate talks between the government and the opposition, the Kremlin said Thursday.
Russia’s outgoing ombudsman Vladimir Lukin will travel to Kiev after Putin suggested the initiative in a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Lukin’s second and final term as presidential ombudsman expired Tuesday.
“Vladimir Petrovich [Lukin] is known for his diplomatic savvy and enjoys recognition with human rights activists. He also used to head a major opposition party,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
The violence in Ukraine, in which at least 64 people have been killed according to the health ministry, is the worst the nation has seen since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Opposition says the real death toll is much higher.