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A woman walks under a billboard with a picture of the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) Alexander Zakharchenko (C) and reading: "we are grateful to the defenders of the fatherland" in Donetsk on March 18, 2015/AFP

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British PM creates fund to curb Russian influence

A woman walks under a billboard with a picture of the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) Alexander Zakharchenko (C) and reading: "we are grateful to the defenders of the fatherland" in Donetsk on March 18, 2015/AFP

A woman walks under a billboard with a picture of the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Alexander Zakharchenko (C) and reading: “we are grateful to the defenders of the fatherland” in Donetsk on March 18, 2015/AFP

LONDON, Mar 20- British Prime Minister David Cameron is establishing a fund to help Eastern European states resist pressure from Russia, several media outlets reported on Friday.

Sky News said the “Good Governance Fund” would amount to £20 million ($30 million, 28 million euros) in 2015 and 2016.

It is “aimed at strengthening democratic institutions in areas that are fearful of Russia’s influence” the broadcaster reported.

The fund is based on a Cold War era programme introduced by former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Bloomberg news agency said.

Thatcher’s “Know How Fund” was established in 1989 to develop economies, governance and institutions in countries that had been in the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence such as the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland.

The “Good Governance Fund” consists of £5 million for Ukraine, and further grants for Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Serbia, Bloomberg and Sky News reported.

The move comes as EU leaders agreed to extend economic sanctions against Russia until the end of 2015, in a bid to force Moscow to help implement a full ceasefire agreement in Ukraine.

A shaky truce between pro Russian rebels and Kiev forces is in place in eastern Ukraine after a peace deal brokered in Minsk.

Russia insists it has no role in the conflict, which has cost more than 6,000 lives, rejecting EU accusations it backs the rebels with arms and assistance.

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