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MOSCOW, May 11. /TASS/. A year has passed since the day when residents of Donbass, who shortly before that declared the establishment of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR), held referendums on self-determination.
Nearly 90% of those who took part in the plebiscite then voted for independence of new state formations. Kiev seemed to be given a clear signal that it is necessary to organize dialogue with the Russian-speaking regions and hold a deep constitutional reform, but politicians at the helm after a coup in Ukraine did not want to listen to the position of east Ukrainian residents.
The conflict grew into a full-scale civil war, which, according to the United Nations, has killed over 6,000 people, made over 2 million people refugees and left the infrastructure of the country’s largest industrial region destroyed nearly 90%
On May 11, 2014, following the proclaiming of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics in April 2014, the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine saw a vote during which people were asked one question: "Do you support the Act of State Independence of the Donetsk (Lugansk) People’s Republic?"
The referendum took place in conditions of a continuing military operation by the Ukrainian army against the region. Still, the vote was held with an unprecedentedly high turnout: 71% in the Donetsk Region and 81% in the Lugansk Region.
Most of those who came to vote supported the idea of state independence of the DPR and LPR. In the DPR, 89.7% of those who cast their ballots (2,511,441) answered positively. In the LPR, where 1.6 million voted, 96.2% gave positive answers.
Moscow noted the high turnout at the referendums in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine and said it respects the will expression of the regions’ residents.
"Moscow treats the will expression of the population of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions with respect and proceeds from the fact that practical implementation of the results of referendums will be held in a civilized way without any repetitions of violence, through dialogue between representatives of Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk," the Russian presidential press service said.
The Kremlin condemned the use of violence, "including the use of heavy armaments against civilians", and said Russia will welcome "any mediation efforts".
West refuses to recognize results
The West refused to recognize the results of the DPR and LPR plebiscites, claiming they were illegitimate, and expanded its sanctions against Russia.
Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee Ukraine’s embattled east as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April 2014, to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics and constitute parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
A ceasefire was agreed upon by the parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) during talks on September 5, 2014 in the Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine. The ceasefire has reportedly been numerously violated since.
The Trilateral Contact Group on east Ukrainian settlement comprising representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE adopted a memorandum on September 19, 2014 in Minsk. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the 12-point Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014.
The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.
The Contact Group’s meetings in late December 2014 and on January 31, 2015 did not bring major results.
Regular talks of the participants of the Trilateral Contact Group were held in Minsk on February 10-12, 2015. Normandy Four (France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine) leaders also discussed the Ukrainian issue in Minsk then.
A 13-point Package of Measures on implementation of the September 2014 Minsk agreements was adopted at those talks.
The package in particular included an agreement on cessation of fire from February 15, withdrawal of heavy armaments, as well as measures on long-term political settlement of the situation in Ukraine, including establishment of working subgroups as priority tasks.
The subgroups focus on four areas: economic issues and restoration of facilities; refugees, internally displaced persons and humanitarian assistance; political issues; security issues.
The foreign ministers of the Normandy Four held talks on Ukraine in Berlin on April 13. The focus of the negotiations was implementation of the February 12 Minsk agreements, especially their political part.
The West has subjected Russia to sanctions over developments in Ukraine. Moscow has introduced food import bans for Western countries in response.
Russia has constantly dismissed allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in Ukraine's southeast.