DONETSK, April 7 (RIA Novosti) – The situation in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk Region requires individual examination and is not identical to the Crimean scenario, the deputy chairman of Russia's upper house of parliament told RIA Novosti on Monday.
“The situation [in Donetsk Region] requires separate consideration due to its historic and political background,” Federation Council member Ilyas Ukhmanov said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
“And it doesn’t automatically mirror what happened in the Crimea and Sevastopol,” he added.
A council established by local pro-federalization demonstrators on Monday declared plans to schedule a referendum by mid-May on the formation of an independent Republic of Donetsk, which could seek to join Russia.
"The People's Republic of Donetsk is to be created within the administrative borders of Donetsk region. This decision shall enter into force immediately after the referendum," one of the leaders of the council said at a meeting in the regional administration building on Monday.
Ukhmanov stressed that events in Ukraine were a result of contradictions between the multinational, multi-confessional population of Ukraine on the one hand, and the unitary nature of Ukraine’s nationhood on the other, which “does not allow national minorities, languages, or representatives of other religions to develop.”
The lawmaker also noted that protests across southeastern Ukraine are “a natural reaction towards the outrage” that has swept the country.
The desire to hold a referendum and exercise the right of self-determination is “yet another signal to the current regime that constitutional reform is badly needed if it wants to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” Ukhmanov added.
A group of protesters pushing for broader regional autonomy stormed government buildings in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, according to local media reports.
Nearly 3,000 people reportedly took control of the national bank’s building in Lugansk. Demonstrators flooded the streets in the city, waving Russian flags and chanting “Russia! Russia!”
Protesters in eastern Ukraine, who have refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new authorities, have been gathering since March, demanding referendums on the status of their regions within the country.
Last month, Crimea joined Russia after holding a referendum that saw over 96 percent of voters support reunification with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the referendum was in full compliance with the UN charter and international law.