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Chủ đề: Ukraine separatists to hold controversial referendum as ruins smolder Gửi trả lời Gửi bài mới
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Trích Thien Y Reply Chủ đề: Ukraine separatists to hold controversial referendum as ruins smolder
    Gửi: 11-05-2014 lúc 12:25

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/11/world/europe/ukraine-crisis/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Ukraine separatists to hold controversial referendum as ruins smolder

By Atika Shubert, Ben Brumfield and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
May 11, 2014 -- Updated 0818 GMT (1618 HKT)

Donetsk, Ukraine (CNN) -- Pro-Russian activists are calling residents in eastern Ukraine to the polls Sunday for a snap referendum on declaring independence from Kiev.

Voters in the city of Donetsk will see the question: "Do you support the Act of Independence of People's Republic of Donetsk?" The options are "yes" or "no." A similar question will be put to voters in Luhansk.

A vote for independence is a vote for the self-destruction of the east, Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has said.

It would cut residents off from the national economy and social programs, he said. "It is a step nowhere for these regions. It is euphoria that may lead to very complex consequences and many people can already feel them

Blood and balaclavas

They have felt the pain in bloodshed, at graves and in burned out ruins still smoldering in the east, where ethnic Russian militiamen have battled Ukrainian security forces.

At least seven people were killed and 39 others were injured on Friday in the southeastern city of Mariupol, regional sources said.

In spite of the sudden nature of the referendum, the people of the self-declared "People's Republic of Donetsk" want to vote, its leader Boris Litvinov said. They are "90% ready," he said and expects a 70% turnout.

The electoral commission office in Donetsk was ringed with sandbags and barbed wire on Saturday.

Men in balaclavas lounged outside tents pitched nearby, looking relaxed. They wore the orange-and-black St. George ribbon, which has become a symbol of the pro-Russian separatists.

A dozen men lined up in front of the regional administration building to sign up for "military service" with the pro-Russian Donetsk People's Republic. They showed their ID documents and registered at a small tent.

Some activists could be seen loading ballot boxes into a van for distribution to polling stations.

The polls will stay open for 14 hours, rather than the usual 12, to allow time to add people to the voter list if necessary, the committee said, adding that access to the most recent electoral rolls has been barred by Kiev.

Deadly clashes have also stained Mariupol and Odessa with blood, as well as Slavyansk, where separatists hold key government buildings and remain in a standoff with Ukrainian military forces. Militants have erected concrete barricades on the roads into town there.

Russia's mixed messages

The message coming from Moscow on the referendum appears mixed.

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin also urged the pro-Russian sympathizers to delay the referendum to give dialogue "the conditions it needs to have a chance."

Putin's unexpected call to delay the referendum appears to have dented the confidence of some pro-Russian activists.

However, representatives of the pro-Russian groups in Donetsk and Luhansk voted to go ahead with it.

Meanwhile, in Slavyansk, a Russian government-controlled TV channel was periodically showing a banner along the bottom of the screen that told viewers where they can vote in Sunday's referendum.

That channel, Russia 24, is available over the air to residents of Donetsk, who can access it in their homes.

The banner lists the location and voting hours and advises voters to bring a passport. The banner is only shown on the Russia 24 channel and not on other channels.

'Illegitimate' vote

Results are expected to emerge late Sunday but whatever the outcome, the vote has already been condemned as illegitimate by the interim government in Kiev, as well as by several Western powers.

Speaking Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "We consider the referendum scheduled for tomorrow illegitimate and focus on the (presidential) election on May 25 in the entire Ukraine."

The interim government in Kiev, which took power after ousted pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia in February, is due to hold presidential elections May 25.

Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, speaking together in Germany, warned that Russia could face consequences if the presidential vote does not go ahead as planned.

"If no internationally recognized presidential election were to take place, this would inevitably further destabilize the country," Merkel said.

In that case, she said, "we are ready to take further sanctions against Russia."

Merkel and Hollande also said that Russian troops along the Ukrainian border "should undertake visible steps to reduce their readiness."

Putin announced a troop pullback Wednesday but NATO says it has seen no signs of a withdrawal of Russian forces from the border area.

Russia annexed the southern region of Crimea after a separatist referendum there.

CNN's Atika Shubert reported from Donetsk and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, Kellie Morgan and Lindsay Isaac, as well as journalists Victoria Butenko and Lena Kashkarova, contributed to this report.

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