Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk regions to hold 11 May referendum as planned
The "people's assembly of the Donetsk People's Republic" has decided against postponing a referendum on the region's status, set for May 11, the co-chairman of the "Donetsk People's Republic government" Miroslav Rudenko, told Interfax over the phone.
"The referendum will be held on May 11," he said. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on representatives of the southeastern regions of Ukraine to postpone the referendum scheduled for May 11.
"We are asking representatives of the southeastern regions of Ukraine and federalization supporters to reschedule the referendum scheduled for May 11," Putin said at a press conference after a meeting with Swiss President and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter.
Putin said Russia calls on representatives of the southeastern regions of Ukraine to do this "tocreate the conditions needed for dialogue" with the Kyiv administration.
Unknown persons overnight destroyed about a million ballots printed for a referendum on independence in the Donetsk Region, local police said on Thursday.
Witnesses said unknown persons broke into a printing house and destroyed 800,000 ballots prepared for a referendum planned for May 11. The attackers also destroyed printing equipment.
A similar incident occurred in another printing house in Donetsk, where unknown people stole about 300,000 ballots and damaged printing equipment.
The attacks were committed by radicals from the Right Sector extremist organization, witnesses said. The attackers were in modern army uniform with yellow and red-and-black bands with Right Sector marks.
There were several groups of attackers, whose aim was to prevent printing of ballots for the referendum, police noted.
The attackers escaped away in a white Volkswagen minibus and a silver-color Mazda minibus, both with Dnipropetrovsk region registration numbers.
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Andriy Parubiy has announced that the Armed Forces operation in the east of the country will continue regardless of any decision to be made by representatives of the "Donetsk People's Republic" concerning their so-called referendum, set for May 11.
"The 'anti-terrorist operation' will continue irrespective of any decisions to be made by different sabotage and terrorist groups that are operating in the Donetsk region," he said after being asked what would happen if representatives of the "Donetsk People's Republic" agreed to cancel their referendum.