UPDATE 1-Russia says Ukraine peace deal cover for power grab

Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:21am EST

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MOSCOW Feb 24 (Reuters) - Russia said on Monday that a Western-backed peace deal in Ukraine is being used to make a power grab and interim authorities were employing "terrorist methods" to suppress dissenters in Russian-speaking regions.

Moscow criticised Western support for a snap presidential election in May following Viktor Yanukovich's ousting and said constitutional reforms rushed through parliament should instead be widely debated and put to a national referendum.

"The Feb. 21 agreement, with the tacit consent of its external sponsors, is being used only as a cover to promote a scenario of forced change of power in Ukraine," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.

"A course has been set to use dictatorial and sometime terrorist methods to suppress dissenters in various regions."

It said the concerns among lawmakers in Crimea and eastern and southern Ukraine must be taken into account, referring to Russian speaking regions that traditionally favour close ties with Moscow.

The ministry said the stance of "some of our Western partners" was driven "not by a concern for the fate of Ukraine but by unilateral geopolitical calculations".

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