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Ukraine warily begins talks on ending crisis — but its pro-Russia foes aren’t invited

KIEV, Ukraine — European-backed peace talks on ending Ukraine’s crisis began with little promise Wednesday when pro-Russian insurgents — who weren’t even invited to the session — demanded that the Kiev government recognize their sovereignty.

The “road map” put forth by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe calls for national dialogue as a first step toward resolving the escalating tensions, in which the insurgents have seized government buildings in eastern Ukraine and declared independence, while government forces have mounted limited offensives to retake control of the region.

But instead of a dialogue, the day was more a case of competing monologues, with the two sides as far apart as ever.

Denis Pushilin, a leader of the insurgency in the city of Donetsk, said his faction was not invited to the government-organized roundtable in Kiev, and that the “talks with Kiev authorities could only be about one thing: the recognition of the Donetsk People’s Republic.”

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said in his opening remarks at the Kiev talks that authorities were “ready for a dialogue,” but insisted they will not talk to the pro-Russia gunmen, which the government has denounced as “terrorists.”

PRETORIA, South Africa — Oscar Pistorius will undergo psychiatric evaluation after the judge ruled at his murder trial Wednesday that his state of mind when he killed his girlfriend should be assessed by experts, possibly delaying court proceedings for two months.

The ruling was prompted by testimony by a psychiatrist on behalf of the defense that the double-amputee Olympic athlete has generalized anxiety disorder and that this may have influenced his judgment when he fatally shot Reeva Steenkamp through a toilet door in his home on Feb. 14, 2013.

The chief prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, then requested psychiatric testing — a move opposed by Pistorius’ chief lawyer. Judge Thokozile Masipa agreed with the prosecutor, saying it was important to independently assess Pistorius’ state of mind because the defense might now argue that he was not criminally responsible for the shooting because of his anxiety disorder.

“The accused may not have raised the issue that he was not criminally responsible at the time of the incident in so many words, but evidence led on his behalf clearly raised the issue and cannot be ignored,” the judge said. Pistorius will likely be evaluated by a panel of psychiatrists at a government facility.

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