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Ukraine’s self-proclaimed republics rule out dialogue with Zelensky

Donbass leaders "have nothing to talk about" with Zelensky, the LPR foreign minister said

MOSCOW, April 1. /TASS/. /TASS/. Officials from Ukraine’s self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) said they saw little opportunity for dialogue with Kiev if comedian Vladimir Zelensky, who now leads the presidential race in Ukraine, is elected the country’s new leader.

"No, no dialogue is possible with Zelensky," Eduard Basurin, a senior representative of the DPR militia, told Russia’s Rossiya-24 TV. "I would like to remind you that he and his comedy team, Kvartal 95, have visited the Donbass conflict zone to give concerts for Ukrainian military and paramilitary bandits, to encourage them for more violence."

Basurin added that under this scenario, he expected little progress in the Minsk reconciliation talks as well.

Meanwhile, the foreign minister of another self-proclaimed Ukrainian republic, LPR, said Donbass leaders "have nothing to talk about" with Zelensky.

"I think that his way of thinking regarding the issue is crystal clear, and we will have nothing to talk about with him," Vladislav Deinego said in a Rossiya-24 broadcast.

When asked about how many residents of the self-proclaimed republic visited the Kiev-controlled territory to cast their ballot, Deinego replied that no activities indicating a large-scale vote of LPR residents has been detected.

"It’s hard to say how many of them went to the polls. In fact, I see no activity indicating that someone went there," he said.

On Sunday, Ukraine voted in the first round of the seventh presidential election in its history. The record number of candidates - 39 people - was registered. According to exit polls, published shortly after polling stations closed on Sunday evening, comedian Vladimir Zelensky and incumbent President Pyotr Poroshenko will face each other in the runoff due on April 21.

According to the data the CEC published after counting 5% of the ballots, Zelensky leads the vote with 28.7%, Poroshenko is gaining 17.31%. Tymoshenko trails closely behind, with 14.61%. She is followed by Yuri Boyko, candidate from the Opposition Platform - For Life, who has 10.43%. The last candidate in the top five is Anatoly Gritsenko of the Civil Position party with 6.81%.

The runoff is scheduled for April 21.