UPDATE: AP reports Pro-Russian protesters declare independence for the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine.
With local reporters citing officials claiming "direct talks between the eastern regions of Ukraine and Kiev are now out of the question", Russia's foreign ministry has commented directly that:
- *RUSSIA SAYS SEPARATIST REFERENDUMS SHOW 'REAL MOOD' IN EAST
- *RUSSIA EXPECTS KIEV GOVT TO REACH OUT TO EAST, WANTS 'RESULTS'
Adding that the Dontesk and Lugansk referenda short evidence of the people's strong will to make decisions on their own, Russia wants "immediate" talks in Ukraine on state governance... and cites Kiev's criminal unwillingness to engage in dialogue with his people.
Local officials do not seem too hopeful of direct talks...
and so it seems Russia is stepping in to mediate...
Despite the attempts of the Kiev authorities to disrupt the vote, including using against the civilian population fighters heavy weapons, radical nationalists, army, which led to casualties, residents of these areas will have passed an exceptionally active population turnout.
Preliminary results of the ballot counting convincingly show the real attitude of citizens of Donetsk and Lugansk regions have the right to independent decision-making on issues related to these vital issues. We believe that the implementation of the outcome of the referendum should take place in the framework of the dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk.
Reaffirm the need for the immediate establishment of a broad discussion in Ukraine concerning its future state structure involving all political forces and the country's regions. This fully fits into the efforts of the international community, as reflected in the Geneva declaration of April 17 and the "road map" that suggested by the President of Switzerland, OSCE Chairman D.Burkhalter.
We are waiting for the real action of the Kiev authorities, and not the general declarations of intent, speedy and effective meetings with representatives of the regions of the South and East of Ukraine, which would lead to stabilization of the situation in the country. Unfortunately, the authorities in Kiev continue to demonstrate criminal unwillingness to engage in dialogue with his people.