In Mariupol, residents are on edge, a day after deadly clashes between anti-government militia and Ukrainian troops. In Slavyansk, the self-proclaimed mayor says the surrounding eastern regions are united in their decision to vote. Ukraine’s interim president Olexander Turchynov warns that a vote on self-rule would mean “self-destruction.” CCTV’s Roee Ruttenberg has this report from Kiev.
Tensions Mount in East Ukraine Ahead of Sunday ReferendumIn Mariupol, residents are on edge, a day after deadly clashes between anti-government militia and Ukrainian troops. In Slavyansk, the self-proclaimed mayor says the surrounding eastern regions are united in their decision to vote. Ukraine's interim president Olexander Turchynov warns that a vote on self-rule would mean "self-destruction." CCTV's Roee Ruttenberg has this report from Kiev.
These images of violent clashes in Ukraine’s East are broadcast daily in Ukraine’s West. But with a message: this is an insurgency; terrorism, backed from abroad, which must be fought at home. Which may explain the government’s official’s – if not technical – position on autonomy votes called for – locally – in at least two Eastern regions.
Andriy Parubiy, Secretary of Ukrainian National Security Council, delivered a speech, saying: “Holding a referendum in Ukraine is clearly regulated by Ukrainian legislation, and it can be held only with the central authority’s participation, only by the decision of the authorities, and only by the relevant competent authority. That is why what they call ‘the referendum’ is nothing but a political scam, a political provocation.”
In an apparent about-face late last week, even Vladimir Putin – Russia’s President – asked Ukraine’s Eastern opposition groups over whom he’s thought to have some sway to hold off any vote. Instead, he added, they should participate in a national election scheduled for later this month.
More Eastern fighting file– but some opposition Ukrainian deputies from the East aren’t buying it.
Olena Bondarenko, Ukraine MP, Party of Regions, said: “No matter what Mr. Putin or Mr. Obama or Ms. Merkel say, the situation doesn’t change. It doesn’t mean that the Kiev Junta – which came to power on bones, blood and corpses – will change anything by waving a stick. It is obvious that they don’t want to negotiate.”
This, of course, is just the latest episode in Ukraine’s ongoing political saga, which started here in Kiev’s Maidan more than six months ago. The protests in this square paved the way for the ousting of Victor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian president who was strongly backed in the East and ushered in this current government.
The new authorities have cleared made Europe a priority. But even they admit: as they’ve looked West, they’ve lost grip on the East. Some say Sunday’s referendum are the consequence.