Pro-Russians hold referendums in eastern Ukraine`s Donetsk, Luhansk

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Sunday, May 11, 2014 - 17:20

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Kiev: In a move that may repeat the Crimea saga in Ukraine, pro-Russian activists on Sunday went ahead with the referendums for secession in two eastern cities of Luhansk and Donetsk, despite warning calls by the west and Ukrainian authorities.

The referendum on May 11 went ahead as planned despite Russian President Vladimir Putin who had proposed that the referendums could be deferred and set a pre condition that Ukraine government must scale back the military operations against pro-Russian rebels.

Putin`s unexpected suggestion of delaying the secession vote came after he met with OSCE chair on Wednesday.

Surprisingly, Putin was also seen supporting the May 25 presidential election planned by Kiev`s interim leaders.

However, the rebels ignored Putin`s suggestion and planned to go ahead with the vote for secession that is set to escalate the crisis in Ukraine, which has already lost the Black Peninsula of Crimea in a previous referndum held on March 16.

According to a BBC report, the polling stations in Donetsk and Luhansk – where the referendums are being held today – were in utter chaos and there were no polling booths or electoral register.

The referendum organisers plan to hold another round of voting later this month and also, they said they would boycott the May 25 elections.

The question on the ballot papers, according to the BBC, reads, "Do you support the act of state self-rule of the Donetsk People`s Republic/Luhansk People`s Republic?"

Condemning the vote, Ukraine`s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov warned that the secession was a self-destructive act that was "a step towards the abyss".

He said that the pro-Russian supporters "don`t understand that this would be a complete destruction of the economy, social programs and general life for the majority of the population."

Also, ahead of the vote, the US State Department issued a statement calling the vote illegal.

“The referenda being planned for May 11 in portions of eastern Ukraine by armed separatist groups are illegal under Ukrainian law and are an attempt to create further division and disorder,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

“If these referenda go forward, they will violate international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The United States will not recognise the results of these illegal referenda,” Psaki said

US, Germany and France have already warned Russia of costs if it continues to destabilise Russia.

Also, NATO has refuted Putin`s claims that Russian troops were withdrawn from the border.

Ukraine has been in the throes of crisis since Feb 22 ouster of Viktor Yanukovych, which followed Crimea takeover by Russia.

First Published: Sunday, May 11, 2014 - 15:04

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