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News :: International
Autonomous SE Ukrainian Republic: "...But Can They Live W/O Us?"
28 Nov 2004
Autonomous SE Ukrainian Republic: "...But Can They Live W/O Us?"

Pro-Russian Eastern Ukraine Threatens to Secede if Yushchenko Wins

Created: 26.11.2004 19:07 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 19:07 MSK


Deputies from Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, where the disputed winner of the country’s presidential poll Viktor Yushchenko gained much of his votes, have threatened to call a referendum on the formation of an autonomous republic if opposition protestors favoring pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko get their way.

Donetsk deputies pledged to form an “East-South” autonomous republic, along with the Crimea region, which already enjoys more powers than Ukraine’s 26 other regions, Reuters reported.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters are still in the streets across central and western Ukraine denouncing the official count which shows Yanukovich as the winner of last Sunday’s presidential election.

“If they don’t clear people out of Kiev squares on Saturday and Sunday, we should, in an orderly, constitutional way, stage a referendum of trust to determine this country’s make-up,” Donetsk Mayor Alexander Lukyanchenko told the assembly.

“We can live without that half (of the country), but can they live without us?” the mayor in this primarily industrial region was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The east, which generates much of Ukraine’s wealth with its coal, chemical and steel industries, has rejected opposition calls for a nationwide strike. Crimea, which already has its own parliament and government, is also Russian-speaking and for a time in the 1990s protested against rule by Ukrainian authorities.

The disputed election has highlighted Ukraine’s centuries-old divide between the Russian-speaking east and the Ukrainian-speaking west.

Ukraine’s constitution only allows for nation-wide referendums. To stage a referendum three million signatures are needed in two-thirds of the country of 47 million. Each region has to provide at least 100,000 signatures.

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Re: Autonomous SE Ukrainian Republic: "...But Can They Live W/O Us?"
28 Nov 2004
Ukraine’s richest, most powerful people have stayed out of the spotlight during the five days of what’s being called the Ukrainian opposition’s “Orange Revolution.”
That’s no surprise, as opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko has been calling them “bandits” during rallies, and saying they belong in jail after robbing the Ukrainian nation of its riches and suppressing democracy.
Many believe that if the opposition takes control of the government, Ukraine’s so-called “oligarchs” – who backed the candidacy of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych - could be tried for stealing state property, election fraud, and other crimes. This group includes Presidential Administration head Viktor Medvedchuk, President Leonid Kuchma’s son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk, and Donetsk-based business mogul Rinat Akhmetov, supposedly the nation’s richest man.
Central Election Commission head Serhy Kivalov is another man who might have much to lose if the opposition wins.
Where these individuals are now is unclear, with the exception of Kivalov, who according to CEC press secretary Zoya Kazanzhi is scheduled to meet with OSCE officials on the evening on Nov. 26.
Some insiders expect them to flee the country, possibly to Russia, if Yushchenko takes the presidency.
Mykhailo Pohrebinsky, a Kyiv-based political analyst who advises Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Presidential Administration Chief Viktor Medvedchuk, said Medvedchuk was in Kyiv as of Nov 25.
“I talked with him yesterday, but I don’t know for sure where he is today,” Pohrebinsky said.
A secretary at the Kyiv offices of Pinchuk’s Interpipe Corporation said that Pinchuk is in Kyiv and busy with meetings, though “he has not recently been in the office,” which is located in the Horizon Towers office building in downtown Kyiv.
Akhmetov did not respond to inquiries by the time this report went to press.