Ukraine President Blames 'Kremlin Agents' for Violence

Image: Ukraine's acting President Turchinov attends a parliament session in Kiev
Ukraine's acting President Oleksander Turchinov attends a parliament session in Kiev February 28, 2014. Ukraine's parliament on Friday asked the U.N. Security Council to call a session to discuss the crisis in the country. Alex Kuzmin / Reuters

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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 organizing mass protests in eastern Ukraine - it is Kremlin agents who are organizing 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.