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Putin calls for end to Kiev military op, postponing E. Ukraine referendum

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Ukrainian right-wing groups are behind the recent events in the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, adding that Kiev has not disarmed them. He also called on anti-Kiev protesters to postpone a May 11 federalization referendum.

"Russia believes that the crisis, which originated in Ukraine and is now actively developing in accordance with the worst-case scenario, is to be blamed on those who organized the coup in Kiev on 22-23 February and still do not care to disarm the right-wing and nationalist elements," the president said.

Direct dialogue between Kiev and anti-government protesters in southeast Ukraine is key to ending the crisis, Putin said.

It is now essential to create “to create the necessary conditions for this dialogue,” he added.

This, however, would require rescheduling the referendum, which anti-government activists scheduled on May 11 to determine the fate of southeast Ukraine. 

“We are calling for southeast Ukraine representatives, supporters of federalization of the country, to postpone the May 11 referendum to create the necessary conditions for dialogue,” Putin said at a press conference with OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss President Didier Burkhalter in Moscow.

In response to Putin’s offer, one of the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, said the possibility would be discussed Thursday.

We respect Putin’s position. He is a balanced politician. So we will submit this proposal tomorrow to the people’s council,” he said.

Putin also described Ukraine's May 25 presidential election as a move "in the right direction", but stressed the importance of constitutional reforms that would have to precede any nationwide vote in Ukraine.

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