Separatists in Ukraine Vow to Proceed With Autonomy Vote

   < < Go Back
from The New York Times,

Donetsk People’s Republic

Rebels in eastern Ukraine said on Thursday that they would proceed with a referendum this weekend seeking autonomy, even though President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Wednesday had appeared to withdraw his support for the vote.

“The referendum will be held on May 11,” said Miroslav Rudenko, the co-chairman of the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, as the rebels call their political wing, according to Interfax, a Russian state-controlled news service.

The announcement is likely to revive tensions between the interim government in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, and the armed rebels who have seized terrain and buildings in parts of eastern Ukraine, including Donetsk.

Rebels in Luhansk, where the uprising has a smaller presence in a city strategically located beside the Russian border, echoed the message from Donetsk, saying they too would hold a referendum.

On Wednesday, Mr. Putin appealed to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to hold off on the referendum in order to provide an opening for a dialogue on new political arrangements for the country, including more autonomy for regions of Ukraine that identify historically and linguistically with Russia.

More From The New York Times: