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Apr 29, 12:08 PM EDT

Cease-fire in east Ukraine set to begin on Orthodox Easter

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MINSK, Belarus (AP) -- The international envoy working to bring peace to eastern Ukraine says agreement has been reached to observe a cease-fire with the start of the Orthodox Easter and May Day holidays.

Martin Sajdik, the special envoy for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said after talks Friday in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, that the cease-fire was to go into effect at midnight Saturday (2100GMT).

Sunday is Easter under the Orthodox Christian calendar and also May Day.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government troops has killed nearly 10,000 people since it began in April 2014.

A top United Nations official said Thursday during a Security Council meeting that the fighting has escalated in recent weeks to levels not seen since a cease-fire agreement was signed in February 2015.

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