Putin asks Ukraine's south-east to postpone referendum


Russia asks the supporters of Ukraine's federalization to push back the referendum originally slated to take place on May 11 to create conditions for it, President Vladimir Putin  said at a press conference following the meeting with OSCE Chairman Didier Burkhalter,  Russia 24 TV channel reports.

Putin stressed out that Russia, like the Ukrainian people, is interested in resolving the crisis in Ukraine. "We ask representatives of the south-east of Ukraine, supporters of federalization to move the referendum scheduled for May 11 of this year to a later date," Putin said at today's press conference.

According to Putin, one should stop all violence in Ukraine to be able to start a dialogue. "A mandatory condition to start this dialogue is to stop all violence - both with the use of armed forces, which is absolutely unacceptable, and illegal armed groups of radical elements," Putin said at the press conference after the meeting with the President of Switzerland and current OSCE Chairman Didier Burkhalter.

Putin reiterated that Russia was still ready to contribute to resolving the crisis in Ukraine. "Russia is ready to make its contribution to the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis and show influence on the Geneva process in the most positive way," he said.

"The most important thing is to establish a direct dialogue, a direct meaningful dialogue between today's Kiev authorities and residents of the south-east of Ukraine, during which representatives of the south-east of Ukraine could be ensured that their legal rights would be guaranteed in Ukraine," said Putin.

Vladimir Putin also said that there were no Russian troops near the Ukrainian border.

"We are being told all the time that there are Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. We pulled back the troops, and they are currently stationed not on the Ukrainian border, but on the locations where they conduct their regular exercises on range grounds," Putin said.

On April 24th, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the beginning of military drills of Russian Armed Forces in the Southern and Western military districts. He explained that Moscow had to react so to the aggravation of the situation in the south-east of Ukraine.

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