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More than 2,000 people demand referendum at rally in east-Ukrainian city of Lugansk

March 29, 2014, 23:59 UTC+3 LUGANSK
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LUGANSK, March 29. /ITAR-TASS/. A rally demanding a referendum on transforming Ukraine into a federation brought together more than 2,000 people in the eastern city of Lugansk, local media said Saturday night.

The protesters demanded that the authorities heed the results of a ‘Popular Referendum of the Lugansk Area’ that was held across the region from March 16 through March 23 and embraced 173,000 residents.

An official statement issued by the spearhead group of the referendum said the respondents were offered to answer five questions.

A total of 96.19% participants gave a negative answer to question number one, which asked them if they had trust in the interim acting president of Ukraine Alexander Turchinov and the officials he had appointed.

Question number two - ‘Do you support the slashing of social benefits and abolition of discounts at the IMF recommendation?’ - got 95.77% negative answers.

Question number three asked the participants if they supported the status of Lugansk region as a constituent territory of a federation within Ukraine received 95.54% positive answers.

Slightly more positive answers - 95.66% were given to a question on whether or not the respondents supported an amnesty to the leaders of the popular resistance movement in the Lugansk area.

Question number five, which concerned a possibility of Ukraine’s joining the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia got 96.1% positive responses.

The rally that gathered in downtown Lugansk chanted ‘Russia’, “Say No to Fascism’, ‘NATO Go Away’, ‘Yanukovich Is Our President’, and ‘Referendum’.

Also Saturday, a rally for a referendum on transforming Ukraine into a federation brought together more than 3,000 people on Lenin Square in Donetsk, the administrative center of neighboring Donetsk region.

Participants in the rally declared their intention to use legal methods for pressing the authorities into a referendum that would resolve the destiny of the heavily industrialized Donbass coalfields area. They were waving Russian flags, as well as the standards of the Eastern Front and the Donetsk Republic movements.

Many participants attached St George’s ribbons - the symbols of military glory and victory in Russia - to their lapels of their coats.

One could hear people chanting the slogans ‘Down with Fascism’, ‘Set Gubarev Free’ (a demand to release Pavel Gubarev, the so-called popular governor of the Donetsk region, from the Ukrainian jail), and ‘Donbass for Referendum’.

In the course of the meeting, activists of the Russky Bloc public association continued an opinion poll related to the proposals to turn Ukraine into a federation, to the status of the Russian language, to the possibility of Ukraine’s joining the Eurasian Customs Union, and to collaboration with NATO.

Sunday, March 30, Lenin Square in Donetsk is likely to become the site of a many-thousands-strong meeting where the residents of the city and region will demand a referendum on the status of Donbass.

Friday, Ukraine’s legitimate President Viktor Yanukovich, who had been compelled to leave the country in the wake of a coup in Kiev, spoke out in favor of turning Ukraine into a federation. For this purpose, he proposed to hold an all-Ukraine referendum instead of the early presidential election, which the powers that be have scheduled for May 25.

“As a President who stands sided by side with you deep at heart and in his thoughts, I call on every soberly-thinking citizen of Ukraine to resist the efforts of usurpers to misuse him or her,” he wrote in an address to the nation.

“Demand a referendum on determining the status of each particular region within Ukraine,” he said.

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