Pro-Russian separatists claim win in eastern Ukraine independence vote

A farce’ – says Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov. Russia welcomes the vote. Germany’s Merkel described the referendum as illegitimate.

Nearly 90% of voters in the Donetsk region voted in favor of independence from Ukraine and 10% voted against it, an election official claimed Monday, CNN informs.
Pro-Russian separatists eager to declare independence from Kiev held the vote Sunday.
A similar question was put to voters in Luhansk. Preliminary results were expected Monday, officials said.
Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov slammed the results. “This propagandist farce will not have any legal consequences, only criminal responsibility of its organizers,” Turchynov said in a statement Monday.
“That farce the terrorists call a referendum is nothing else but a propagandist cover for killings, kidnapping, violence and other grave crimes”, he said.
He reiterated that his government will continue fighting against “terrorists, saboteurs and criminals,” but will negotiate with those in eastern Ukraine “who do not have blood on their hands and those who are ready to defend their goals and beliefs in a legal way.” A vote for autonomy is a vote for the self-destruction of the east, Turchynov has said.
But Russia welcomed the vote. “Moscow respects the will of the population of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and hopes that the practical implementation of the outcome of the referendums will proceed along civilized lines, without repeat outbreaks of violence,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
In a brief statement, the Kremlin described the referendums as “the will of the people” and noted the “high turnout”. According to the BBC, the Kremlin denounced what it claimed had been “attempts to disrupt the votes, with the use of force, including the use of heavy weapons, against civilians”, reports the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg in Moscow.
The Kremlin suggested that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) could help organise such a dialogue. Later Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there were no plans to hold fresh international talks on the crisis – he accused the West of an “information blockade” over events in Ukraine and of “shameless lies”.
The vote is a stark contrast to recent polling by the Pew Research Center, which found 70% of people in eastern Ukraine want the country to remain united, CNN further informs.
Several Western powers condemned the vote. German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the referendum as illegitimate, and said the focus should be on the May 25 presidential election in Ukraine.
EU FMs discuss possible new sanctions against Russia
The foreign ministers of the 28 member-countries of the European Union (EU) were to hold a routine meeting in the Belgian capital on Monday to consider possible consequences of the referendums held on Sunday in Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, Itar-Tass reports. It was also planned to discuss advisability of application of additional sanctions with regard to Russia. Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), will attend the ministerial meeting. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, was expected to pay a special visit to the Ukrainian capital on Monday to give moral support to Kiev.
Ukraine crisis could have ’severe’ economic impact, IMF chief says
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde warned in a German newspaper interview Monday that the Ukraine crisis could have “severe” economic consequences for other countries, informs. Lagarde also told the Handelsblatt business daily that a 17-billion-dollar aid package granted to Ukraine by the IMF would not be enough.
“The crisis in Ukraine is a danger which is very difficult to gauge (and) whose contagion risk for other countries can barely be predicted,” she said. “All the same, it can have severe economic consequences.”

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