12 May 2014

Ukraine 5/12: Legitimacy of Referendum Questioned

Well, it's being questioned by everyone by Russia, as the outcome was predictably in their favor.

Ukrainian leader Oleksander Turchinov accused Russia of working to overthrow legitimate state power in Ukraine on Monday after pro-Russian rebels declared a resounding victory in a rebel referendum on self-rule in eastern regions.

Russia said it respected the outcome of the referendum, in which separatists in the industrial Donetsk region claimed 90 percent support, and that the results should be implemented peacefully. It did not say what further action it might take.

Hours after the vote, dismissed by Kiev and Western governments as illegal, rebel leaders' plans remained unclear. Some have publicly supported pressing for annexation by Russia, which absorbed Crimea after a similar vote in March.

"This land was never Ukraine ... we speak Russian," said Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, rebel mayor of the separatist stronghold of Slaviansk, threatening to kick out the Ukrainian army.

Asked about the possibility of holding a second referendum, on union with Russia, he said: "There has been no decision, but this referendum showed we are prepared ... we can put on an election or referendum at short notice at barely any cost."

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