Ukraine's Lugansk declares itself sovereign state
According to Lugansk officials, some 90 percent of the voters supported the region's drive to secede from Ukraine and become an independent sovereign state during the referendum on Sunday. The move comes shortly after the Donetsk region declared its independence from Kiev earlier in the day and said it would ask Moscow to join Russia.
"We, the people of Donetsk People's Republic, after the results of the referendum held on May 11, and on the basis of the Donetsk People's Republic's sovereignty declaration, announce that the Republic, from now on, is a sovereign state" according to the will expression of the residents of Donetsk People's Republic, and to re-establish the historical justice we ask the Russian Federation to consider the request of the Republic to join Russia," Co-Chairman of the government of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Denis Pushilin said in his adress to the citizens. The Sunday's referendum in the Donetsk region saw about 90 percent of the population voted to break free of the Kiev authorities.
The referenda in the two Ukrainian regions were organized by federalization supporters who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government that came to power following the February ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych. Commenting on the results of the vote Moscow said earlier this day that it respected the will of the people in Ukraine's southeastern Donetsk and Lugansk provinces and hoped the regime in Kiev would do the same.
Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) has proclaimed itself an independent state as a result of a referendum, Denis Pushilin, Chairman of the Donetsk People's Republic council, says. "We, the people of Donetsk People's Republic proclaim the independence of DNR following the results of the referendum held on May 11, and the manifest of the independence of DNR.
Following the will of the people of DNR, who wish to restore historical fairness, we ask the Russian Federation to let DNR integrate with Russia," Pushilin told on Monday.
"Moscow respects the will of citizens of the Donetsk and Lugansk areas and hopes that the further fulfillment of the results of the referendum will be held peacefully through a dialogue between the representatives of the Ukrainian government, Donetsk and Lugansk," Russia's press service says.
More than 96 percent of voters backed the region's independence from Ukraine.
The authorities of the Donetsk people's republic (DPR) said their first priority after the May 11 referendum over the region's self-determination will be to defend and equip their borders.
"First of all, we are facing the task of defending and equipping our borders. We need to secure full control over armed groups and military bases located in the region, courts, prosecutor's offices and so on. We need to drive all forces of the enemy out of the republic," co-chairman of the DRP government Myroslav Rudenko told Interfax.
"We will not [stop using] hryvnia for the time being so as not to ruin our economy. At any rate, for now this is a transition period, and after that we shall see," Rudenko said.
Viktor Yanukovych said he understands the decision made by the people of Donetsk region to come to the referendum and vote for their independence.
"Why did an overwhelming majority of citizens who live in Donetsk region come to the referendum and vote for any other state system except for a system in which you can call your citizens terrorists and kill them with impunity? Because the people of Ukraine have reached the limit of their patience," Yanukovych said in a statement possessed by Interfax.
"Dissidents were persecuted in Germany then and now whole cities in Ukraine are experiencing a blockade only because the people are defending their viewpoint, which is different from that of the ruling regime," Yanukovych said in a statement obtained by Interfax.
"Today's Ukraine is reminiscent of Germany under Hitler. Hitler then designated an enemy represented by dissident intelligentsia, Jews, Gypsies, etc. They were blamed for all the problems of German society and the propaganda played its role some time later," the document says.
Speaking about the tragic events that occurred in Odessa on May 2, Yanukovych compared them to crimes committed by fascists.
"A normal person shudders at the sight of the burned dead bodies of the people who were martyred in Odessa. However, we see an unimaginable thing now: some people who are brainwashed by propaganda were able not only to accept this killing, but even rejoice in it. It's ordinary fascism," Yanukovych said in his statement.
Viktor Yanukovych has urged the authorities in Kiev to immediately withdraw troops from the Donetsk, Lugansk and Odesa regions and stop killing their own people.
"Immediately withdraw mercenaries and troops from the territory of the Donetsk, Lugansk, Odessa and other regions, stop the violence and terror against your own people. Citizens see every day what you are doing to your country, you have passed the point of no return," Yanukovych said.
Yanukovych said he is convinced that the new Kiev administration is to blame for the deaths of the people on Kiev's Maidan in February 2014.
He calls on all citizens to "look at all events preceding the referendum in the southeastern regions of Ukraine closely and objectively and give them a fair and balanced evaluation."
"Some people have probably not realized it yet, but reasonable people understood a long time ago that the blood of the 'heavenly hundred' is also on the hands of the new administration [:] I know it like no one else. Neither myself nor any members of my administration issued any orders to open fire on peaceful citizens on February 18-20," Yanukovych said.
"Those who are behind the coups understood that the authorities, whose heroes from Berkut were wounded and killed and who gave their lives to defend constitutional order and peace, would not issue a command to return fire," he said.
"Then those monsters who came to power made a horrible decision to open fire on 'their' activists and the police simultaneously to make the 'sacral sacrifice' to the revolution that they had promised. I couldn't believe it,but they did it. Hence the wounds to people's backs and shots fired from behind caught on some recordings," he said.
Yanukovych believes that this is the reason for "the persistent unwillingness to investigate the shooting on the Maidan."
"The bullets have still not been seized, the witnesses and the wounded police officers and activists have not been questioned. The location of the snipers have not been determined yet and the trees hit by bullets [:] have all been cut down," the statement says.
Yanukovych said that "this junta I responsible for the killing of the 'heavenly hundred' and the killings in Odessa, Kharkov, Mariupol, Slavyansk, and Kramatorsk."
"And they won't stop because they understand that they have crossed all possible borders and punishment for them will be inevitable," Yanukovych said.
The referendum in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions indicates that residents of the southeastern regions of Ukraine want freedom and protection of their rights, Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said, according to Interfax.
"The referendum shows their wish to defend their rights, essentially, their wish to be free," Naryshkin told reporters on Monday when asked to comment on the outcome of the referendum.
Naryshkin said the results of the referendum clearly show the opinion of millions of Ukrainians who live in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, "the opinion that their rights are massively violated in the current state system."
The referendums on the status of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions demonstrate the choice of local residents and the world should recognize it, Federation Council member Sergei Tsekov (Crimea) said.
"Unfortunately, the self-proclaimed authorities of Ukraine did not let [the regions] hold their referendums in a calm atmosphere, but, clearly, the vote demonstrated the will of people in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
The referendums have totally convincing results: we saw how enthusiastic people were about the referendum and how many of them came to polling stations," Tsekov told Interfax on Monday.
People in the southeast of Ukraine took part in the referendum although it was held against the backdrop of armed clashes, which meant they were confident of their choice, the parliamentarian said.
"If the world unwaveringly supports democratic values and wishes peace and accord in Ukraine, it should recognize the referendums and do its best to assist Ukrainian regions and the center to sit down and agree on their future," Tsekov said.
The Donetsk and Lugansk regions have held referendums on their status in spite of Kiev's resistance. The Donetsk referendum's outcomes demonstrate the choice made by people, Crimean first deputy prime minister Rustam Temirgaliev said.
"People in the Donetsk and Lugansk have chosen independence although the self-proclaimed Kiev "authorities" tried to thwart the referendum. Some 89% voted "for" in the Donetsk region alone! We are now expecting self-determination of the Odessa and Kharkov regions," Temirgaliev wrote on Facebook on Monday, Interfax reports.
Russian State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Neverov (United Russia faction) said the people of the southeastern regions of Ukraine have confirmed their right to live in an independent republic where the authorities do not conduct punitive operations against civilians by voting at the referendum.
"The people have defended their right to a referendum!" Neverov told Interfax on Monday, referring to the referendums held in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine on Sunday.
"By defending their right to self-determination, the residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions have confirmed their wish to live in an independent, free and peaceful republic that is independent of the Kiev junta," he said.
Neverov pointed out that the Kiev administration has used weapons against residents of the southeastern regions using the Ukrainian army and armed radical nationalists.
Neverov believes the referendum was a reaction to the events that are now taking place in Kiev. "It's a consequence of the recent policies of the Kiev administration, the Kiev junta, who has launched a real punitive operation against the citizens of the southeastern regions."
Neverov said radical nationalists, "who are essentially bandits," were given firearms and they were used against civilians and Kiev also used armored vehicles, aviation, and artillery in the so-called anti-terrorist operation.
"All these things were used against unarmed citizens. There are dozens or even hundreds of casualties among them," Neverov said.
Neverov called on Western politicians in Europe and the United States to finally try to objectively assess the events in Ukraine, to "open their eyes and see that the 'anti-terrorist operation' conducted in the southeastern regions is really a punitive operation, a mass killing of civilians," adding that the referendum is a reaction to this punitive operation, Interfax reports.