KIEV, May 10 /ITAR-TASS/. Representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) have denied early voting in the referendum on the status of the region slated for May 11.
“No preliminary referendums have been held. This would be illogical and senseless. This is obviously spread by provocateurs who do not want the referendum to take place,” DNR spokesperson Vitaly Ivanov told ITAR-TASS by telephone on Saturday, May 10.
“This [early voting] cannot benefit the DNR in any way because the outcome is predictable with any turnout: the majority of people in the Donetsk region, judging from preliminary questioning, intend to support the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” he said.
“As for who may be behind such stove-piping and provocative reports, we suspect it’s some group from Dnepropetrovsk which wants to upset the referendum and is acting quite professionally with the support of certain journalists from Ukrainian media controlled by Mr. Kolomoisky [pro-Kiev governor of Dnetropetrovsk],” Ivanov said, but added, “We have not caught anyone in the act yet.”
Some Ukrainian media showed television reports from polling stations in the Donetsk region alleging that people were already voting in the referendum.
The referendum in the Donetsk People’s Republic will confirm its right to self-determination but won’t give it sovereignty, DNR Central Electoral Commission Chair Roman Lyagin said.
“We will get no sovereignty after the referendum, we will only get the right to self-determination,” he said. “We may hold one more referendum as the next step to ask people if they want to join Russia or stay within Ukraine, unitary or federative, or they want to become an independent state. Today we are only seeking the right to self-determination and no more than that.”
The first results of the referendum will become known within 2-3 hours after the last polling station closes at 23:00 Moscow time, Lyagin said.
“We have the full understanding of the authorities [Donetsk Regional Administration] and they are not interfering with the referendum. Polling stations will work in schools in all cities of the Donetsk region” he said, adding that the supporters of federalisation had formed 53 territorial electoral commissions and more than 1,500 local commissions for the referendum, which will “be valid with any turnout”.
The referendum will be held in the Donetsk region and the neighbouring Lugansk region. Their residents will be asked to say whether they support their regions’ right to self-determination.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier asked the supporters of federalisation to postpone the referendum until a later date. However, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics decided against that. “This is not our decision. This is the decision of the people of Donbass. The people of Donbass have a chance to perform a feat and we have no right to take this chance away from them,” Andrei Putgin, one of the DNR leaders, said.
The referendum will be held amid Kiev’s ongoing punitive operation in the South-East of Ukraine.