Ukraine’s Central Election Commission and Ministry of Justice are looking into the possibility to hold an all-Ukrainian referendum on decentralization of the country during the first round of the presidential election scheduled for May 25 or during the second round due to take place on June 15, the Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council announced Tuesday. “Two dates are now on the table: May 25 and June 15. These are the dates for the two rounds of the presidential election. This is the way to ensure the low cost of the referendum. Currently the Central Election Commission is investigating whether these questions [related to the decentralization] could be printed on security paper till the first round or by the second round. This [the referendum] is most likely to take place on June 15,” Viktoriya Siumar said during a press conference adding that the final decision is expected later as it is currently being reviewed by the Central Election Commission together with the Ministry of Justice.
Siumar specified that the referendum would cost about 1 billion hryvnia ($88 million) if conducted separately, and up to 30 million hryvnia ($2.5 million) if it takes place during the election. Ukraine faced a regime change in February when the country’s parliament, backed by far-right movements, voted to strip President Viktor Yanukovych of his powers, amended the constitution and slated early presidential elections for May 25.
Moscow says that the legitimacy of the upcoming election will depend on a number of conditions, including transparency, fairness and taking the interests of the regions into account. A number of Ukrainian eastern and southern regions, as well as the Republic of Crimea, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the interim authorities and call for a referendum on the status of their respective regions within the country.
A referendum held on March 16 in Crimea saw almost 97 percent of voters support reunification with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on March 21 to ratify the reunification treaties with the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, which has a special status within the region.
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