Ukrainian President cancels Eurovision appearance after Russian shelling attack kills four

Petro Poroshenko says he and wife Marina pulled out after deaths of 'peaceful civillians' caught up in conflict in the eastern part of the country

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko cancelled his planned appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev after a shelling attack in the war-torn eastern part of the country reportedly killed four civilians.

The head of the conflict-riven Donetsk region of the country said the deaths occurred when “Russian occupying forces” shelled a block of flats.

“Three women and one man was killed," he said on his Facebook page.

Mr Poroshenko said on Facebook he was planning “to be at the contest final with (my wife) Marina and invited our fighters and people with disabilities to support Ukraine.

“However due to the shelling of Avdiivka and the death of peaceful civilians, I took a decision to cancel my presence at the Eurovision final."

Russia was banned from appearing at Eurovision by the Ukrainian security services because she had performed in Crimea.

27-year-old singer Russian, Yulia Samoylova, had been chosen to represent the country but because she had toured in Russia-annexed Crimea without going through the border with the Ukrainian mainland, authorities were allowed to block her entry.

The latest deaths represent the single biggest loss of civilian life since a new truce in the three-year war came into effect on 1 April.

The attack took place in Avdiivka – a flashpoint suburb of the Russian-backed insurgents' de facto capital city of Donetsk.

The four reported casualties bring the number of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians officially reported killed this month to 14.

Ukraine has accused Russia of plotting and backing the conflict in which more than 10,000 have died - a charge denied by Moscow.

The war zone lies approximately 300 miles to the east of the capital Kiev where thousands of tourists gathered to watch the annual televised song competition.

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