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“Despite a complex situation in the east, nothing will disrupt the expression of people’s will,” Mikhail Okhendovsky told local media.
Residents of the predominantly Russian-speaking southeastern regions 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.
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) announced on Wednesday that it blocked access to the list of registered voters in several districts of the country’s Donetsk Region in a bid to prevent a referendum on the federal status of the eastern region.
Ukraine saw a coup 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 March 18.
President Viktor Yanukovych had to leave Ukraine citing security concerns. New people were brought to power amid riots in Ukraine in February. The Verkhovna Rada, the country’s unicameral parliament, appointed its new speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, as interim head of state and approved a new government led by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the leader of the parliamentary faction of the Batkivshchyna party.
Earlier in the month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow did not recognize as legitimate the new authorities in Kiev as well as the upcoming snap presidential election.
A total of 23 people were registered by Ukraine’s Central Election Commission to run for the country’s presidency.
Nine registered candidates were nominated by political parties. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was nominated by the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party, former Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko — by the Civil Position party, former Minister of Revenues and Duties Oleksandr Klymenko — by the Ukrainian People’s Party, former Minister of Social Policy Natalia Korolevska — by the Ukraine-Forward party, Vasyl Kuybida — by the People’s Movement of Ukraine (Rukh), Oleh Lyashko — by the Radical Party, Petro Symonenko — by the Ukrainian Communist Party, Oleg Tyagnibok — by the Svoboda (Freedom) party, and Dmytro Yarosh — by the radical Right Sector organization.
Other candidates, including tycoon Petro Poroshenko, are self-nominees. Poroshenko, however, can count on the support from Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR party, while Mykhailo Dobkin is backed by the Party of Regions.