East Ukraine says no to Kiev

by our European Affairs correspondent

THE PEOPLE of eastern Ukraine have overwhelmingly voted for independence in weekend polls organised by the people’s committees in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Almost 90 per cent of voters in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic have endorsed political independence from Kiev while in Lugansk Region 96.2 per cent of voters supported the region’s selfrule, according to the final figures announced by the local election commissions.

The Russians say they will respect the will of the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. But the Kremlin is biding its time before reacting to Donetsk People’s Republic’s plea to consider its accession into Russia while calling for dialogue between Kiev and the eastern regions. The Americans and the rest of the imperialist pack of dogs have dismissed the vote as “illegal” and the “president” of the puppet regime in Kiev has denounced the referendums as a “farce”.

Though the Kiev junta’s attempts to disrupt the ballots have failed, their forces are continuing their efforts to contain the anti-fascist uprising that has swept the Russian-Ukrainian parts of the country. This week seven Ukrainian paratroopers were killed and eight others wounded when their convoy was ambushed by self-defence forces near Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region.

Meanwhile the leader of Ukraine’s Communist Party says the Kiev regime killed peaceful civilians and is spreading lies about the real situation. Pyotr Simonenko said nine people were killed and another 49 were injured in the port of Mariupol on 9th May. The communist leader called on the “interim” government to halt its military operations and accept the results of the referendums; he described the recent events in Odessa and Mariupol as an attempt to impose a “nationalist-fascist regime” on the country.

In Moscow the parties in the Russian parliament have all welcomed the Ukraine referendum results. The results prove that their residents are seeking freedom and protection for their infringed rights, say the leaders of all four Russian parliamentary factions.

The head of the State Duma committee for relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States said on Monday that the votes only confirmed the information that Russian officials already possessed — that the overwhelming majority of people in eastern and south-eastern Ukraine were opposed to the Kiev regime and the forced union with the West.

Leonid Slutskiy added that the poll results will be taken into consideration as Russia develops its new relations with Ukraine, but the major priority will remain the same — stopping the bloodshed and prevent a humanitarian disaster.

The MP also noted that the Duma fully supported the position of President Vladimir Putin, who last week called upon the pro-federalisation forces in Donetsk and Lugansk regions to postpone the referendums and try to negotiate with the Kiev regime into suspending the military operation against the civilian population in its own country. But the decision to hold the referendum still must be respected as such a move is fully within the sovereign right of the Ukrainian territories, Slutskiy added.

The head of Putin’s ruling United Russia party, Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin, said that Ukrainians were holding a referendum on federalisation was a proof of their drive toward freedom. He added that the numerous statements that the referendums and their results were illegitimate do not mean that the referendums never took place and through these events millions of Ukrainians have expressed their opinion that the current Ukrainian state allowed the mass violation of their rights.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation said that the referendums allowed the self-defence units in these regions to act on behalf of the people. Deputy Duma speaker Ivan Melnikov noted that the results of the polls were even more impressive considering the extremely difficult and tense conditions in which they were held.

“Such referendums are even more in line with the original referendum idea than those held by the state as these are real grassroots events,” the communist MP declared. “If the share of those who support federalisation is above 90 per cent, it becomes a primary political factor that simply cannot be ignored,” he added, calling the event “an important signal flare for the fight of all south-east [Ukraine]”.

The head of the centre-left Fair Russia bloc, Sergey Mironov, said that he expected the Russian authorities to take a “calm and carefully considered decision” on the referendum results, but added that this decision will not be in support of those “who want to dance to Kiev’s tune written across the ocean”.

Mironov said that his party was in solidarity with Ukrainians from Lugansk and Donetsk and respected their right to express their views while the leader of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, demanded that Russia recognise the referendum results and hoped that life in the south-east Ukrainian regions would become better after this turning point.