Ukrainian Reactions on Referendum

World Today

Ukraine’s acting president called the referendum “a step into the abyss.” On his website, Oleksandr Turchnov urged residents in the east to boycott the polls, warning that independence will ruin the economy there. Kiev has come under criticism for failing to stop the vote. CCTV’s Roee Ruttenberg has more.

Ukrainian Reactions on Referendum

Ukrainian Reactions on Referendum

Ukraine's acting president called the referendum "a step into the abyss." On his website, Oleksandr Turchnov urged residents in the east to boycott the polls, warning that independence will ruin the economy there. Kiev has come under criticism for failing to stop the vote. CCTV's Roee Ruttenberg has more.

Authorities in Kiev insist the referendums in the East are illegal. But they’ve been powerless to stop them. Instead, on Sunday, they watched from the capital as thousands voted to potentially leave Ukraine.

Serhiy Pashynskyi, Chief of Staff for Ukraine Acting President, says: “The fact is: no ‘referendum’ is being held there. It’s nothing more than an information campaign of terrorists, in order to disguise their crimes behind the opinions of citizens of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”

Until now, the government’s approach has been one of force a crackdown on eastern opposition groups holding key administrative buildings who called for the referendum in the first place. It is a crackdown that’s only gotten harsher in recent days.

Late last week, the acting president Oleksandr Turchynov suggested a national dialogue was the way forward, with the eastern groups, but without those with “blood on their hands.” That didn’t stop the voting.

Vadim Karasiov, political analyst, says: “The acting government was watching the formation of this referendum in complete shock, as if they’d didn’t believe it’ll be actually be held, or they didn’t believe it’d have any legal consequences. But it is, it does. It’s a fact.”

Some voters in the East say Kiev’s attitude reeks of hypocrisy. This current government, they note, came into power after protesters here in the Maidan occupied key government buildings, backed by armed groups. And they, too, have called for a vote. If you can have one, they say, why can’t we ”

But that argument has gained little sympathy here in the capital, where Sunday’s vote is viewed as a Russian-backed political provocation and a step backwards, instead of forwards.

Dmitriy Shyshkin, Maidan Activist, says: “We were for a united country. The people there are just being tricked. But if they really want to be tricked, it’s their choice. Of course, if we had a more powerful and responsible government, then everything would be different … ”

This, effectively, puts the ball back in Kiev’s court. The big question now is how will the authorities respond to something they insist didn’t happen.

For more on the escalating crisis in Ukraine, CCTV’s Asieh Namdar is joined by William Courtney, former US ambassador to Georgia and Kazakhstan and Anthony Salvia, Executive Director at the American Institute in Ukraine.

Courtney and Salvia on Ukraine Crisis

Courtney and Salvia on Ukraine Crisis

For more on the escalating crisis in Ukraine, CCTV’s Asieh Namdar is joined by William Courtney, a former US ambassador to Georgia and Kazakhstan and Anthony Salvia, Executive Director at the American Institute in Ukraine.