RFE/RL

United States Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch has stressed the need to prevent violence by extremist groups during the upcoming presidential elections, the first round of which is scheduled to be held March 31.

Ambassador Yovanovitch on Thursday met with Interior Minister Arsen Avakov to discuss "the importance of free and fair elections," the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine wrote on Twitter.

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The envoy also "noted the Interior Ministry’s important role and responsibility to counter threats and prevent acts of violence by extremist groups."

In turn, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, also via Twitter, stated that he had discussed with Ambassador Yovanovitch “pressing issues of ensuring fair and transparent elections, security, and preventing provocations at polling stations during the vote”.