Despite a suggestion made yesterday by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk will proceed with Sunday's referendum vote as planned. BBC reports:
The decision to press ahead was announced by separatist leaders in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. The leader in Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, said it had been unanimous.
The suggestion to postpone the vote may have come "from a person who indeed cares for the people of the south-east," he said, "but we are the bullhorn of the people".
The separatists say that they have printed one million ballots, but without full control over most of the territory where Russian-backed separatists plan on holding this vote, it's not clear how such a vote will be conducted.
Ukraine, the United states, and many European nations have already said that the referendum is not constitutional and its results will not be recognized.
While some European leaders have welcomed what's being described as Putin's "change in tone," others, including the government in Kiev, have dismissed the statements Putin made yesterday as just more lies. AFP reports:
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed the “constructive tone” of Putin’s comments, but Yatsenyuk said the Kremlin strongman was “talking through his hat.”
The Ukrainian foreign ministry issued a statement saying Putin’s call to push back the referendums was “just a mockery and by no means a sign of goodwill” because the plebiscites were illegal to begin with.
While the government wants to have a “full-scale national dialogue... a dialogue with terrorists is impermissible and inconceivable,” the ministry said.
The head of the elections commission of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, Denis Pushilin, centre, speaks at a press conference on the referendum at the occupied administration building in Donetsk. Photo: AP