A day before Ukraine was to elect a new President the rebellious Russian-speaking regions ramped up their rebellion against Kiev, deciding to form a new independent state.
The formation of Novorossiya, or New Russia, as the eastern part of Ukraine was called in the 19th century, was announced at a meeting of pro-independence activists from Ukraine’s eight southeast provinces in Donetsk.
Novorossiya will initially be made up of the “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk, which declared their independence earlier this month. It is planned that six more regions — Nikoyayev, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Zaporozhie and Kherson, will join the new state after holding referendums on independence, similar to those held in Donetsk and Luhansk held in May.
“We see only one road ahead for us, independence and breakup with Ukraine,” said Pavel Gubarev, leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic. However, the meeting was split on the issue of independence from Ukraine.
Part of more than 140 delegates who attended the meeting supported the idea of greater autonomy from Kiev. They set up a People’s Front designed “to protect civilians from the terror of neo-Nazi bands” and “strengthen ties with Russia.”
As of now anti-Kiev forces control two regions, Donetsk and Luhansk, where the military are conducting an “anti-terrorist operation.”
Ukrainian authorities have admitted that Sunday’s vote may be disrupted in the two provinces as insurgents have blocked at least half of all the election commissions.
Volodymyr Hrinyak, chief of public security at the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, said on Saturday that 17 out of 34 district election commissions in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions had either been seized or shut down by armed men.
The two eastern regions account for 14 percent of the electorate and their failure to take part in the presidential vote, which they consider to be an election in a “neighbouring state,” will bolster the regions’ claim to independence and undermine the legitimacy of Ukraine’s new leadership.
Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, who is in charge of the military crackdown, promised there would be no “active operations” on the election day, but the forces would “intervene if there is threat to the lives of people, including those who would like to vote.”