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    Putin Says Ukraine Cannot Elect President Without Changing Constitution

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    The new head of state cannot be elected in Ukraine without amending the constitution in the country, which still has its legitimate president, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a live Q&A session with the public on Thursday.

    MOSCOW, April 17 (RIA Novosti) – The new head of state cannot be elected in Ukraine without amending the constitution in the country, which still has its legitimate president, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a live Q&A session with the public on Thursday.

    “If the constitution is not changed, new election cannot be held as President Viktor Yanukovych still remains the legitimate president,” Putin said adding that under the constitution, Ukraine cannot elect the next president while the current one is alive.

    Moscow has described the Ukrainian crisis as an illegitimate coup and a military seizure of power, insisting that Yanukovych remains the elected president chosen by the people of Ukraine to lead their country.

    “If they want a legitimate election, they should amend the constitution,” Putin said.

    Putin also stressed that Moscow would not recognize the result of the May 25 presidential election if attacks on candidates continued in the country.

    “How can election be legitimate if candidates from the east are always being beaten, poured with some kind of ink and are not allowed to meet with the voters,” Putin said.

    Earlier this week, Oleh Tsarev, 43, a presidential candidate and an active pro-federalization supporter, was brutally beaten by radicals in Kiev following his appearance in the Ukrainian talk show, “Svoboda Slova," meaning “Freedom of Speech."

    After the attack, Tsarev said that he would not withdraw from the election.

    Unidentified attackers also blocked and damaged the vehicle of another presidential candidate, Mikhail Dobkin, who was reportedly hit by a barrage of green antiseptic solution and flour.

    Russia has condemned the attacks as violating a free and democratic election and also criticized the West’s “shy silence” towards the reports.

    Ukraine underwent a regime change resembling a military coup on February 22. The country’s parliament ousted president, changed the constitution and scheduled early presidential elections.

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