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Russia Calls For Talks Between Kyiv, Separatists On Self-Rule

Members of a local separatist election commission empty a ballot box as they start counting votes of the referendum on the status of Donetsk region in Donetsk on May 11.
The Russian government says Ukrainian officials in Kyiv should hold talks with pro-Russian separatists on the results of self-rule referendums in eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin said on May 12 that it respects the "expression of the people's will" in the referendums held in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions the previous day.

Self-styled separatist functionaries in eastern Ukraine claimed high voter turnout and overwhelming majorities voting for independence in the two regions.

The referendums -- at which there were no international observers -- were declared illegal by Ukrainian officials and many Western countries.

Many media outlets reported various irregularities during the referendums, including people voting multiple times and children casting ballots.

But Moscow said the results of the votes should be "implemented in a civilized manner."

Russian President Vladimir Putin called last week for the referendums to be postponed, but separatist officials in Ukraine rejected his call.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and ITAR-TASS