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State Duma factions welcome Ukraine referendum results

Published time: May 12, 2014 13:06
Deputies attend a session of the Duma, Russia's lower house of Parliament, in Moscow (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

Deputies attend a session of the Duma, Russia's lower house of Parliament, in Moscow (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

The results of the Sunday referendums in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions 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 (a Russia-led economic and political bloc where Ukraine was an observer member until mid-march this year), Leonid Slutsky, said Monday that the referendum only confirmed the information that Russian officials already possessed – that the overwhelming majority of people in Eastern and Southeastern Ukraine were opposing the Kiev regime and the forced union with the West. Slutskiy added that the poll results will be taken into consideration as Russia develops its new relations with Ukraine, but the major priorities of these relations 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-federalization 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. However, 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 the majority United Russia faction, Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin, said that the fact that Ukrainians were holding a referendum on federalization 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 faction says that the Donetsk and Lugansk referendums allow the self-defense 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,” Melnikov told reporters. ”If the share of those who support federalization is above 90 percent, 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 southeast [Ukraine].”

The head of the center-left parliamentary party Fair Russia, 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.

The flamboyant chairman of the populist nationalist party LDPR, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, told reporters that he demanded that Russia recognize the Ukrainian referendum results and hoped that life in the Southeast Ukrainian regions would become better after this turning point. The politician said that it was for Ukrainians themselves to decide their fate, but called for Russia to help provide security and humanitarian aid in the troubled regions.

The weekend referendums in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions have showed that the majority of voters support self-rule, according to the official results announced Monday.

Almost 90 percent of voters in the Donetsk region have endorsed political independence from Kiev and the number of supporters of self-rule in Lugansk was slightly over 96 percent, according to local activists who organized the polls.