Poroshenko lifts vote objections in Ukraine
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has publicly lifted his objections to a referendum that could give more powers to the restive regions engulfed in more than a year of warfare.
The conflict between Russia-backed rebels and government troops in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 6,000 lives.
When it began, protesters in the east demanded a vote on giving their regions more autonomy. Such calls were rejected by the Ukrainian government at the time.
But Mr Poroshenko has met a parliamentary commission that is drafting amendments to the country's main law.
He said in a televised meeting that if the commission decides a vote is necessary, he would not stand in the way of a referendum.
"I'm ready to launch a referendum on the issue of state governance if you decide it is necessary," he said.
Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland was the support base for Kremlin-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in February last year after months of protests.
Several months into the fighting, however, pro-Russia rebels said they no longer wanted just autonomy, but rather an independent state.
Mr Poroshenko insisted that he is still opposed the idea of federalisation, which Russia has advocated, but is in favour of decentralising power to the regions.
He specified decision-making on security, defence and foreign policy would remain in the hands of the central government.
Mr Poroshenko also added that he still does not support making Russian a second official language and said everyone should "remember it as the Lord's Prayer: Ukrainian has been and will be our only state language".