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You're reading: Akhmetov says Donbas is part of Ukraine, denies meeting with Putin
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While offering to act as an intermediary between the separatists and the government in Kyiv during an expletive-laden discussion, Akhmetov admitted he was in favor of the Russian language as an official regional language, as well as decentralization of power from the central government in Ukraine.

However, he emphasized: “Donbas is Ukraine.” His endorsement is key, because Akhmetov is by far Ukraine’s wealthiest citizen with an estimated net worth of $18 billion and because of his deep ties to Donetsk Oblast, which has nearly 10 percent of Ukraine’s population of 45 million people.

Akhmetov, 47, advised the separatists to negotiate with the government – not issue outrageous demands or ultimatums.

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