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    Moscow Respects Choice of Ukrainian People in Referendums

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    The Kremlin said Monday it respects the choice that the people in Ukraine’s southeastern Donetsk and Luhansk provinces made during referendums on self-rule on Sunday and hopes the government in Kiev will follow suit.

    MOSCOW, May 12 (RIA Novosti) – The Kremlin said Monday it respects the choice that the people in Ukraine’s southeastern Donetsk and Luhansk provinces made during referendums on self-rule on Sunday and hopes the government in Kiev will follow suit.

    “Moscow respects the expression of will of the population in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and judges from the fact that the practical fulfillment of the referendum results will be held in a civilized way, without any violence but through dialog between representatives of Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

    “In the interests of establishing such a dialog, any mediation efforts, including in the framework with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), are welcomed,” the statement added.

    Moscow noted the high turnout at the referendums in southeastern Ukraine despite attempts to disturb the vote, the Kremlin press service said.

    “We condemn the use of force including military hardware against peaceful citizens which led to deaths,” the Kremlin said, adding that Russia carefully monitored the preparation for the referendums in the southeastern Ukrainian regions.

    On Sunday, residents in Ukraine’s southeastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions went to the polls in a self-rule referendum, with ballots in Ukrainian and Russian asking whether they supported the acts of state self-determination of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

    In the Luhansk region, voter turnout was over 79 percent, with the turnout in the regional capital exceeding 76 percent. In neighboring Donetsk Region, more than 70 percent came to cast their ballots despite an intensified military operation by the Kiev government.

    Serhiy Pashynsky, the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, said Sunday the “anti-terror operation” in Donetsk’s flashpoint cities of Kramatorsk, Slaviansk and Krasny Liman had entered a “final phase” yesterday, adding that Ukrainian troops had “wiped out a lot of separatists.”

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