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ODESSA, March 09, /ITAR-TASS/. Thousands of people criticized the Kiev authorities and demanded holding a referendum on de-centralization of power in Ukraine, the status of the Russian language and the country’s foreign policy course at a rally in Odessa, Ukraine, on Sunday. The demonstrators holding the flags of Odessa and Russia gathered on the Kulikovo Polye square in the city centre where a tent camp had been set up to collect signatures in favor of a plebiscite.
Representatives of local political parties and public movements who spoke at the rally blamed the interim authorities in Kiev for splitting the country and launching a ‘witch hunt’. Other speakers included activists from Crimea, Lugansk and other eastern and southern parts of Ukraine. They read out an address of Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov who called the government in Kiev illegitimate and urged the people of Odessa not to recognize it, form self-defence units and demand an all-Ukrainian referendum. He also promised to give shelter to everybody who was suffering from reprisals launched by the new authorities.
According to Grigory Kvasnyuk, a deputy of the Odessa City Council from the Rodina party, tensions in Crimea erupted because the authorities in Kiev had been neglecting and negating the needs of the Russian-speaking population for many years.
The participants in the rally passed a resolution which they tried to hand over to the European Union via the Polish consulate in Odessa, which, however, refused to accept it.
The action’s organizers said that rallies would be held in Odessa every weekend until the situation did not stabilize.
A concert in which artists from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus will take part will be held in Odessa next Saturday, March 15. A city march will be held on March 16. For a week, the activists will be focused on collecting signatures in favour of a referendum. Tens of thousands signatures have already been collected.