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Ukraine Says Special Op to Continue Regardless of Referendum Decision

RIA Novosti [1]
May 8, 2014

The Kiev authorities’ special operation in southeastern Ukraine will continue regardless of the decision of the Donetsk People’s Republic to hold a referendum on the region’s status, a senior Ukrainian official said Thursday.

Andriy Parubiy, the Secretary of the Committee on National Security, said that according to the country’s laws, the DPR does not have the right to hold the vote.

“If [the date of the referendum] is going to be postponed or they announce the results of the referendum does not make any difference. The anti-terrorist operation will continue,” Parubiy said during a press conference.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday urged pro-federalization activists in southeastern Ukraine to postpone a referendum on self-determination to ensure the start of nationwide dialog.

Later in the day, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov described Putin’s proposal as “a step toward the Ukrainian people rather than a step toward the [interim government in] Kiev.”

“If federalization activists in eastern regions of Ukraine decide to follow Putin’s advice and postpone the referendum, and Kiev, in its turn, stops its military operation and starts to launch the mechanism of dialogue, then it will take Ukraine out of the situation,” he told the Slon.ru news website.

Pro-federalization activists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions are to discuss the proposal on Thursday.

Early presidential elections were scheduled for May 25 in Ukraine after the country’s elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted late February following the so-called Euromaidan mass rallies in Kiev.

Citizens of the mainly Russian-speaking southeastern regions of Ukraine have refused to recognize the legitimacy of the country’s interim government and have announced referendums on self-determination in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, to be held on May 11.

Kiev’s current authorities have launched a special operation to crack down on the protesters, leading to violent clashes in major towns of southeastern Ukraine and dozens of casualties. Last Friday, 46 protesters were killed and over 200 were injured in the port city of Odessa.

Russia has repeatedly condemned Kiev’s military operation against the restive regions and urged an immediate withdrawal of Ukrainian troops, as well as the start of comprehensive national dialogue to de-escalate the situation in the crisis-hit country.