Donetsk Region Rejects Ukraine's Upcoming Presidential Vote

MOSCOW, May 12 (RIA Novosti) – The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic will not participate in Ukraine’s upcoming presidential election on May 25, DPR Co-Chairman Denis Pushilin said Monday.

“The election will not take place here,” Pushilin said.

The announcement followed a statement by Southeastern Army Press Secretary Vasiliy Nikitin that the neighboring Luhansk People’s Republic was also not planning to participate in the vote.

On Sunday, residents in Ukraine’s southeastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions went to the polls in a self-rule referendum, with ballots in Ukrainian and Russian asking whether voters supported the acts of state self-determination of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

According to the final official tally, more than 70 percent of registered voters came to cast their ballots despite an intensified military operation by the Kiev government. Some 89.7 percent of the voters backed independence for Donetsk, while 10.19 percent voted against the measure.

Pushilin said the DPR could decide on Monday whether to remain part of Ukraine or secede from the country.

At least 50 people have died and 245 have been injured in Ukraine’s southeastern Donetsk region since the beginning of a violent standoff between federalists and pro-regime forces on March 13, officials said Monday.

In the Luhansk region’s referendum, voter turnout was over 79 percent, with the turnout in the regional capital exceeding 76 percent. Nikitin said earlier that more than 96 percent of voters backed the region’s independence from Ukraine and did not rule out the possibility of a referendum on joining Russia.

The Luhansk People’s Republic may campaign for international recognition at the United Nations, he added.

The Kremlin said in a statement Monday it respected the will of the people in Ukraine’s southeast and urged the regime in Kiev to do the same. The Kremlin said it condemned “the use of force including military hardware against peaceful citizens which led to deaths” during the referendums.