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Kyiv, U.S. Condemn Moscow's Support For Separatist Election

A Ukrainian serviceman after casting his vote in parliamentary elections at a polling station in Novoaidar near Luhansk on October 26.
A Ukrainian serviceman after casting his vote in parliamentary elections at a polling station in Novoaidar near Luhansk on October 26.

Ukraine has condemned as “destructive and provocative” Russia’s support for elections organized by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, while the United States said a vote by separatists in eastern Ukraine would be unlawful.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on October 28 described the vote planned by rebels as "pseudo-elections," saying they "grossly contradict the spirit and letter" of international agreements reached in Minsk in September.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow plans to recognize the elections that are being organized by separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

In an interview with Russia’s "Izvestiya" daily newspaper published on October 28, Lavrov said: "We expect the elections will go ahead as agreed, and we will of course recognize the results."

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Canada's capital, Ottawa, warned that the the vote "will be a clear violation of the commitments made by both Russia and the separatists that it backs in the Minsk agreements."

Pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions -- who declared independence after Russia annexed Crimea in March -- have said they will hold elections in their self-declared "people's republics" in order to elect separate parliaments and their own leaders.

Poroshenko previously has said that any local elections in Ukraine must be conducted according to Ukrainian law, indicating Kyiv does not consider the polls planned for Donetsk or Luhansk as legitimate.

Kyiv has offered three years of "self-rule" to parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, with local elections to be conducted on December 7.

Voters in Crimea and eastern Ukraine’s separatist-controlled areas were effectively blocked from taking part in Ukraine's parliamentary elections on October 26.

U.S. President Barack Obama praised that vote as “another important milestone in Ukraine’s democratic development.”

But Obama accused Russia of obstructing the vote in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, saying: "It is clear that Russian authorities occupying Crimea and Russian-backed separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine prevented many Ukrainian citizens from exercising their democratic rights to participate in national elections and cast their votes."

Obama also called on the winners of the October 26 election to work together toward “the quick formation of a strong, inclusive government.”

Coalition talks were continuing in Kyiv for a second day on October 28 between the pro-Western parties that, according to preliminary results, appear to have won a majority of parliamentary seats.

Poroshenko hosted a first round of coalition negotiations on October 27, meeting with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Andriy Sadovyi, the mayor of the western city of Lviv.

With more than 70 percent of the vote counted, Yatsenyuk's People's Front and Poroshenko's bloc were nearly tied with just over 21 percent of the vote each.

Poroshenko's bloc consists of his own Solidarity Party and Udar, a party led by the mayor of Kyiv and former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko.

Sadovyi's pro-European Samopomich (Self Help) party was positioned for third place with 13 percent of the vote.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, TASS, and "Izvestiya"

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