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El Tiempo, Sept. 24, 2015

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and rebel leader Timoleón Jiménez of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) agreed Wednesday on a "deadline for peace," promising to end the country's half-century-long civil war within six months, Colombia's daily El Tiempo reports.

The two men sealed the deal with a historic handshake in Havana, Cuba, which has hosted the nearly three-year-old peace talks. Cuban leader Raul Castró also joined hands with Santos and Jiménez, who "took a gigantic step," El Tiempo's front-page article explains, of committing to a series of legal mechanisms to treat war-related crimes perpetrated on both sides.

"We have agreed to create a special jurisdiction for peace that is going to guarantee that the crimes committed during the conflict, especially the most serious ones, will not remain unpunished," Santos said.

The mechanisms include special courts, an amnesty in the case of lesser political crimes, and alternative forms of punishment for rebels willing to confess to their misdeeds. The two sides promised to sign a peace deal by March 23, 2016, at the very latest. The FARC will then have 60 days to relinquish its weapons.

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Donetsk People's Republic holds referendum on joining Russia

Irene Caselli, Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Russia's proxies in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions announced that referendums on joining Russia had begun that Ukrainian and Western officials have denounced as shams.

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For four days, "voting" will be held at people's homes "for security reasons," Russian state-controlled news agency RIA Novosti wrote. On the last day of the "referendums," on September 27, locals will be asked to go to "polling stations."

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