Ukraine softens Crimea stance

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Ukraine's parliament took a soft line on tackling separatism in the Crimean peninsula yesterday, apparently heeding a call by President Leonid Kravchuk to avoid inflaming tension over the region, Reuter reports from Kiev.

After seven hours of debate, deputies agreed merely to call for tougher legislation to tackle constitutional disputes with Crimea's pro-Russian leaders. They also asked Mr Kravchuk to draw up a list of punitive measures to use against Crimea if it persisted in ignoring the former Soviet republic's laws.