Poroshenko raises decentralization referendum but rebels reject
KIEV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday, April 6, raised the idea of holding a referendum on the decentralization of the country's cities but was swiftly given the cold-shoulder by pro-Russian rebels.
"I'm ready to launch a referendum if you decide it is necessary," Poroshenko said at the first meeting of a constitutional commission set up to carry out political reforms required under February's Minsk 2 accords.
The agreement concluded in the Belarussian capital between the two sides in Ukraine's conflict included a ceasefire as well as political chapters.
The Ukraine leader said "decentralization" would concern "not regions but the city, village and territorial community" and would not be around the question of "federalization", which is favored by separatist leaders in east Ukraine.
"Federalization is like an infection, a biological weapon which they are trying to impose from outside Ukraine ... to destroy our unity. And we will not allow it."
In a quick response, a rebel spokesman for the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic", Denis Pushilin, rejected the notion of working with the Kiev commission, saying "the people who represent Donetsk in Kiev do not represent us."
The conflict between Russia-backed rebels and government troops in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 6,000 lives. It began with protesters in the east demanding a vote to give the region more autonomy. – Rappler.com