“The local governing system cannot be reformed without changing Ukraine’s constitution. This will be quite a long process. This really complicates the matter. At this point, the best way out of the situation is signing a temporary arrangement, which would cover the issues, regarding regions’ rights, governors’ electivity and the status of the Russian language”, the Donetsk regional administration said on its website on Wednesday.
Public opinion surveys have shown that the region’s population wants to be an “independent federal entity of a united, politically stable country”.
A coup in Ukraine took place in February, which brought new people to power amid deadly riots. Crimea, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities. It held a referendum in which it decided to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. A relevant deal was signed on March 18.Residents of the predominantly Russian-speaking south-eastern region of Ukraine, including the Donetsk Region, disagreed with the course of the policy of the new authorities in Kiev and went on protests demanding referendums on the federal status of their regions. Demonstrators in the Donetsk Region plan their referendum for May 11.
Besides the currently planned referendum in the Donetsk Region, the country attempted seven referendums in total since 1991. Referendums concerned various issues including on the territorial status, on the Russian language, on the Constitution and the country’s accession to NATO. Voting in five of the referendums (in 1992, 1995, 1998 and two in 2006) was banned either by the Ukrainian Parliament or by the Central Election Commission. The voting in 1991 referendum on the restoration of the Crimean Autonomy within the Soviet Union took place, but its results were later recognized as invalid. The most recent referendum, held on March 16, 2014 on Crimea’s sovereign status, was the only successful in Ukraine’s present-day history.
After Crimea’s incorporation by Russia, which Kiev does not accept despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum was in conformity with the international law, protests against the new Ukrainian leaders have erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking south-eastern regions, with demonstrators, who are demanding a referendum on the country’s federalization, seizing some government buildings.
Ukrainian parliament-appointed acting president, Verkhovna Rada speaker Oleksandr Turchynov announced the start of the antiterrorism operation in the Donetsk Region, apparently designed to clamp down on federalization supporters, on April 15.