Deposed Ukrainian President Calls for Referendums Country-Wide

March 28, 2014  

Ukraine’s deposed president, Viktor Yanukovich, called for each of the country’s regions to hold a referendum on its status “within Ukraine” on Friday, following the successful move for Russia to annex the Crimean peninsula.

“As a president who is with you with all my thoughts and soul, I urge every sensible citizen of Ukraine: Don’t give in to impostors! Demand a referendum on the status of each region within Ukraine,” Yanukovich stated, as quoted by Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency. The deposed president fled to Russia last month. 

Russia sent 6,000 troops into the region at the beginning of the month, beginning a de facto military invasion which sparked already-tense conflicts between the Crimean population – much of which is ethnically Russian and has a pro-Russian majority – and the newly empowered Opposition government in Ukraine, which has sought to distance itself from Moscow. 

As Russian troops over the past several weeks have ballooned to over 40,000, Moscow annexed Crimea last week, in a controversial referendum vote that many say was skewed from the beginning. 

Now, tensions have snowballed over the referendum throughout Ukraine, which is still reeling from a months-long struggle between anti-government protesters and police to gain control of the country which spiraled into crisis in December. 

Over the past week, concerns have risen that the Crimean takeover could turn into a precedent for Ukraine to splinter further – especially over protests erupting in the pro-Russian province Donetsk, which analysts say bears similarity to the protests preceding the current crisis. 

Earlier this week, the Tartars – an ethnic Muslim minority in both countries – began a push to hold their own referendum, citing the need to protect their national and cultural interests. 

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