Ukraine’s acting president has warned that a “Yes” vote in an upcoming referendum on independence in eastern regions could cause a catastrophe.
Writing in his website on Saturday, Oleksandr Turchynov said people in the country’s eastern parts risk stepping “into the abyss” by voting for independence in the referendum, expected to be held on May 11.
“Those who stand for self-rule do not understand that it would mean complete destruction of the economy, social programs and life in general for the majority of the population in these regions,” he stated.
Turchynov also called on pro-Russia protesters to agree to talk with the Kiev authorities over greater autonomy for their regions.
In a statement, released on Thursday, the interim Ukrainian president and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk proposed holding a roundtable meeting to resolve the ongoing crisis in the Eastern European country.
The Sunday referendum will ask people in Ukraine’s eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk to answer “Yes” or “No” to the question: “Do you support the act of proclamation of state sovereignty for the Donetsk People’s Republic?”
According to reports, pro-Moscow activists are making final preparations for the referendum despite a call from Russian President Vladimir Putin for the vote to be delayed in order to create better conditions for talks.
Meanwhile, authorities of the Western-backed Ukrainian government sacked the governor of Lugansk, Mikhail Bolotskikh, on the eve of the planned vote.
Pro-Russia protests gained momentum in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine after Crimea declared independence from the former Soviet state and formally became part of the Russian Federation following a referendum in March.