Ukraine leader calls referendum a `farce`; Russia `respects will of people`

Despite being called as ``illegal` and `self-destructive` by the west and Ukrainian authorities, scores of people cast their votes in the much-disputed Sunday referendums.

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Kiev: In what could send temperatures soaring in Ukraine by triggering Crimea memories, Kremlin has stated that w pro-Russian activists declared a thumping victory in the controversial referendum held in the eastern region of Donetsk, reports said Monday.

According to a BBC report, a whopping 89% people voted in the favour of self-rule referendum that recorded a turnout of nearly 75%, said the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People`s Republic election commission Roman Lyagin.

Adding to the concern, is a statement by Kremlin that said that "Russia respects the will of the people", reported the AFP news agency.

"Moscow respects the expression of the people`s will in Donetsk and Lugansk," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Kremlin also sought a dialogue between Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian rebels, saying, "the results to be implemented in a civilised manner, without any repeat of violence, through dialogue between representatives of Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk."

Meanwhile, Ukraine`s President Oleksandr Turchynov told the parliament that the pro-Russians` vote was a farce, saying, "The farce that terrorist separatists call a referendum is nothing more than propaganda to cover up murders, kidnappings, violence and other serious crimes".

Despite being called as ``illegal` and `self-destructive` by the west and Ukrainian authorities, scores of people cast their votes in the much-disputed Sunday referendums held on May 11 in Donetsk and Luhansk, that asked the voters if they supported the “self-rule in the Donetsk People`s Republic/Luhansk People`s Republic?"

According to a BBC report, the referendums were badly organised with haphazard voting in places, as some polling stations didn`t have electoral registers or polling booths.

There were reports of people voting twice as despite voters` lists in polling stations, people could vote at any station.

Although the voting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions reportedly went peacefully, there were also some fatalities reported as Ukrainian national guardsmen opened fire on a crowd outside a town hall in Krasnoarmeisk, said the Associated Press.

An AP photo also showed a person, said to be pro-Russian, who was killed in firing by Ukrainian guards in Krasnoarmeisk.

Though rebels says they are victorious and will formalise the result after forming their own state bodies and military, the results are hardly expected to be approved by the EU and the West.

According to Reuters, the EU has refused to accept t he results of the referendum that it says was held in violation of a treaty signed by Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the United States last month that aimed to defuse the Ukraine crisis. 

"The so-called referenda in ... parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions were illegal and we do not recognise the outcome. Those who organised the referenda have no democratic legitimacy," the Reuters quoted a EU spokeswoman as saying.

The US, France and Germany have already warned of costs against Russia in case the presidential elections of May 25 failed to take place.

Despite warning calls by the west and Ukraine government, the referendum on May 11 went ahead as planned despite Russian President Vladimir Putin`s unexpected proposal of delaying the vote.

Putin`s surprise suggestion of delaying the secession vote came after he met with OSCE chair on Wednesday, and he proposed to set a pre condition that Ukraine government must scale back the military operations against pro-Russian rebels. 

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 similar previous referendum held on March 16.

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

Crimea annexation fuelled further tension in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russians occupied government buildings in over a dozen of cities.