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Donetsk and Luhansk regions to hold referendum as scheduled earlier

May 08, 2014, 15:35 UTC+3 8 8/5

The people’s council of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic has voted against the postponement

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© ITAR-TASS/Konstantin Sazonchik

KIEV, May 08. /ITAR-TASS/. The Donetsk and Luhansk regions have decided not to postpone the referendum planned for May 11.

The people’s council of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic has voted against the postponement.

"People intend to hold the referendum. There are millions of people ready to cast their votes," co-chairman of the republic’s government Denis Pushilin told a press conference after the council's voting. "Even if we had voted against, the referendum all the same would be held," he added.

Leaders of the proclaimed republic expect provocations may be committed in the next few days to destabilize the situation in the region.

The eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region has also refused to postpone the referendum scheduled for May 11, according to a representative from the press center preparing the plebiscite.

“Yes, the referendum will be held as planned,” Vasily Nikitin confirmed, adding that the question asked will be “Do you support the act on state independence of the Luhansk people’s republic?”

He said preparations for the referendum continued round-the-clock, and the expected voter turnout was 80 to 90% “Ballot papers have been already delivered to the polling stations,” he added, saying “preliminary results will be announced already on Monday”.

Donetsk police reported on Thursday morning that unknown attackers had destroyed 800,000 ballots in a printing house in Donetsk and took away 300,000 ballots from another.

Witnesses said it was done by radicals from the Right Sector extremist organization. The attackers were in modern army uniform with yellow and red-and-black bands with Right Sector marks.

There were several groups of attackers, whose aim was to prevent printing of ballots for the referendum, police noted. The attackers drove away in a white Volkswagen minibus and a silver Mazda minibus, both with Dnepropetrovsk region registration numbers.

Russia’s president asks to postpone referendum

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was asking Ukrainian federalization supporters to postpone the referendum to a later date.

“We are asking representative of the South-East of Ukraine, the supporters of federalization to postpone the referendum slated for May 11 in order to create proper conditions for this dialogue,” he said after talks with Swiss President and Chairperson-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Didier Burkhalter.

Putin stressed that the presidential elections announced by Kiev were “a movement in the right direction all by itself but they won’t change anything if people in Ukraine do not understand how their rights will be guaranteed after the elections”.

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