Russia's Foreign Minister Calls for Kiev-Donbass Talks

World | May 12, 2014, Monday // 11:59
Lavrov: Russia's Foreign Minister Calls for Kiev-Donbass Talks Reports suggest overwhelming support for self-government in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions, but no voter turnout has been announced. Photo by EPA/BGNES

No solution to the Ukraine crisis could be reached if authorities do not engage in a dialogue with "opponents of Kiev's regime", Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said Monday.

At a press conference, Lavrov stressed the importance of a "national dialogue" in Ukraine based on a proposal by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

He nevertheless added he remained skeptical that any talks could take place.

According to ITAR-TASS Lavrov also ruled out the prospect of a new meeting on Ukraine.

His words come amid reports that self-government in eastern Ukraine has been supported by an overwhelming majority on Sunday's local polls.

Over 96% of voters at the 'self-rule' referendum held May 11 in Ukraine's Luhansk voted in favour, while over 89% did the same in Donetsk, according to Russian media reports.

Kremlin officials were quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying that Moscow would treat with 'respect' the expression of Donetsk and Luhansk population's will.

They also said they hoped that its results would lead to a substantial dialogue between Kiev's government and east Ukrainian representatives.

All ballots were declared processed in Donetsk Monday morning.

Official results are expected later during the day.

Donetsk governor Serhiy Taruta, who was appointed by the interim leadership in Kiev short after the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych, made some comments on the referendums hours ahead of the official results.

Taruta was clear the results of the 'self-rule' vote would not be recognized, describing it as a 'pseudo-referendum'.

He insisted that a new poll should be held in Donetsk and added he would put forward June 15 as a new date for it.

"We do need a referendum. A legitimate one. One with observers and district commissions, one that is not held at gun points. Interim President and Prime Minister have accepted our proposal. This will be a consultative referendum on decentralization," Taruta was quoted by UNIAN news agency as saying.

The Governor also called for the "anti-terrorist" operation to be suspended in the Donbass, as he believed it was time for dialogue with pro-Russian activists.

Kiev, the EU and US have condemned the local self-government referendum held on Sunday in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Brussels and Washington have also stressed the importance of the upcoming May 25 presidential vote, with pro-Russian activists have vowed to boycott.

EU leaders are expected to meet further on Monday and discuss a new round of sanctions against Moscow in response to the ongoing Ukrainian unrest.

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Tags: Donetsk, Luhansk, Sergei Lavrov, Ukraine, Referendum, Serhiy Taruta, Russia, OSCE, self-government, self-rule, anti-terrorist, EU, US, Kiev, Moscow
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