Pro-Russians declare victory on self-rule referendum
Russia said it respected the outcome of the referendum but it did not say what further action it might take, while Ukrainian leader Oleksander Turchinov accused Moscow of working to overthrow legitimate state power in Ukraine."Based on the will of the people and on the restoration of a historic justice, we ask the Russian Federation to consider the absorbtion of the Donetsk People's Republic into the Russian Federation," said a statement by Denis Pushilin, a leading member of the self-declared "Donetsk People's Republic.
"The people of Donetsk have always been part of the Russian world. For us, the history of Russia is our history.", it said.
Turchinov dismissed the separatist vote as a farce.
"These processes are inspired by the leadership of the Russian Federation and are destructive to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions' economies, threaten the lives and welfare of citizens and have the aim of destabilising the situation in Ukraine, disrupting (May 25) presidential elections and overthrowing Ukrainian authorities," he said in a statement.
The presidential vote is intended to secure democratic continuity and legitimacy following Yanukovich's flight to Moscow in February.
The referendum opened a new phase of uncertainty in a country historically divided between a Russian-speaking east and a more westward looking west.