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Pro-Russia insurgents make independence call; 13/05/14.

PRO-RUSSIAN insurgents in Ukraine's Donetsk region have declared it an independent state and asked to join Russia.

The move follows a hastily organised referendum on Sunday in which organisers said about 90% of those who cast ballots in Donetsk and the neighbouring Luhansk region backed sovereignty for the areas that form Ukraine's industrial heartland.

The statement was issued by one of the leaders of the insurgents, Denis Pushilin.

But the Kremlin suggested earlier it had no intention of immediately annexing the two regions. The referendum has been dismissed as a sham by Ukraine and the West. They criticised the hastily arranged, unof-ficial ballot in the regions - which together have 6.5 million people - as a violation of international law.

They accuse Moscow of fomenting weeks of unrest in eastern Ukraine in a possible attempt to grab more land after annexing Crimea in March - accusations that Russia has denied.

"The farce, which terrorists call the referendum, will have no legal consequences except the criminal responsibility for its organisers," Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said in a statement. In Moscow, Russian president Vladimir Putin's office urged the Ukrainian government to engage in talks with representatives of eastern Ukraine.

CAPTION(S):

Insurgent leader Denis Pushilin speaks during a news conference in Donetsk, Ukraine, yesterday. The referendum <Bballoting was condemned as a sham by Kiev's interim government and western powers Alexander Zemlianichenko

Alexander Zemlianichenko
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:May 13, 2014
Words:230
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