July 22, 2014
Ukrainian president open to referendum on federalization amid increasing tensions
In a rather surprising statement, Ukrainian acting President, Olexandre Turchinov, said he wasn’t opposed to the possibility of a national referendum to change to a federalized system, offering greater autonomy to the regions, a key demand of pro-Russian militants in the East of the country.
The unexpected announcement seems to be an attempt to ease the increasing tension between the central government and the pro-Russian militias. In fact, the President’s remarks come at a time when the deadline set by the government yesterday for pro-Russians to lay down their arms and evacuate the buildings they seized last week in eastern Ukraine has passed.
Turchinov, that has strongly rejected the referendum before, now said he wasn’t opposed to the idea, encouraged by Russia, because he was certain that most ukrainians would vote in favor of an “indivisible, independent and democratic and united Ukraine".
“In recent days, there has been a lot of talk about a national referendum”, the President said at a political meeting. “We are not against holding a national referendum that - if parliament adopts the corresponding decision - could be held together with the presidential elections”, he added.