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Russian region declares state of emergency over Ukraine refugees

A Russian region bordering Ukraine declared a state of emergency on Saturday, citing a growing number of people arriving from separatist-occupied areas in Ukraine after receiving evacuation orders.

“Given the trend of more and more people arriving, we consider it appropriate to introduce a state of emergency,” Rostov region governor Vasily Golubev said at a meeting, according to Russian news agencies.

The leaders of two pro-Russian separatist republics in eastern Ukraine on Friday ordered civilians to cross the border into Russia, accusing the Ukrainian military of preparing to try to retake the regions by force.

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The conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted in 2014 when Moscow-backed rebels seceded from Kiev and Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula. Since then, some 14,000 people have been killed in fighting.

The current head of Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said some 400 people and 150 vehicles were involved in operations to receive people coming from separatist areas.

Emergency services in the separatist region of Donetsk said just over 6,600 people had been evacuated earlier Saturday.

The state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported that those crossing the checkpoints received medical and psychological assistance.

The Lugansk region, meanwhile, said 25,000 people had left of their own accord and that convoys were preparing to take out another 10,000 people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government at the end of Friday to give evacuees 10,000 rubles (about 100 euros).

Kiev has repeatedly denied any plans to take back control of separatist-occupied areas by force.

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