Russian President Putin 'Will Respect' Ukraine's Vote
Russia's President Vladimir Putin announced he will respect the results of the presidential elections to be held Sunday in Ukraine.
At an economic conference in the city of St Petersburg he described the current situation in Ukraine as a "full-scale civil war".
"We wish that peace and calm come in Ukraine [and that] conditions are created for the country to move out of the crisis. I am speaking with no irony, so that in a country brotherly to us there is order. We will work with those who are now controlling power [and] after elections will work with newly-elected structures," Putin was quoted by Peterburgski Dnevnik, a local daily, as saying.
He asserted his country would support any choice made by the Ukrainian people.
Putin nevertheless advised Kiev's interim leadership that a new constitution be adopted through a referendum and repeated his stance that "under the current constitution Yanukovych is still in power."
He was referring to ousted President Viktor Yanykovych who fled Kiev following episodes of violence in the capital and other towns and cities of Ukraine.
Russia's President also urged that military operations in the east and south of Ukraine should be suspended.
His words address concerns of Ukrainian politicians and some Western leaders caused by Russia's earlier statement that it may decide not to respect Sunday, May 25's presidential elections, as it also deems the current Kiev leadership illegitimate.
Pro-Russian separatists occupying a number of buildings in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions at Ukraine's eastern borders have also vowed not to hold the vote in the cities which are currently under their control.
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