Kremlin asks Kiev to "fulfil" referendum results in Luhansk and Donetsk

Referendum organizers say "yes" was supported by 90% to 98% of the voters · Russia "respects the expression of will of the population" · One of the leaders of the People's Republic of Donetsk declares independence · Kiev and EU hold the vote was a "farce"

Everything is re-starting and nothing is ending with the holding of the two referendums organized yesterday by the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk and People's Republic of Luhansk, which partially control those two provinces of eastern Ukraine. Beyond the results, which was especially expected today was the reaction from the Kremlin. The reaction has been less strong than it was for Crimea -the Ukrainian territory that was annexed by Russia two months ago-, but it leaves no doubt that the Kremlin will play hard.

In a statement, the Kremlin validates both referendums by saying that "Moscow respects the expression of will of the population in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions" and hopes that "the practical fulfillment of the referendum results will be held in a civilized way, without any violence but through dialog between representatives of Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk."

The "referendum results" are quite clear about the figures -at least, about those given by the organizers-, but not so much as to what "the practical fulfillment" means . In fact, the very referendum question written on yesterday's ballots was unclear, since citizens were asked about " samostoyatelnost", and not on "nezavizimost" "Nezavizimost" is the Russian word that is commonly used to refer to the independence of a country, while "samostoyatelnost" is a more vague term that can be translated as "independence", but also as "autonomy" or "self-sufficiency."

Therefore, based on the ambiguity of the question, right now is difficult to know if the Kremlin is asking Kiev to "fulfil" yesterday's decision by granting independence to Donetsk and Luhansk, by recognizing them as self-governing regions, or by turning Ukraine into a federation, a demand the Kremlin put forward two months ago. It should also be recalled that the Kremlin had asked leaders of the two self-proclaimed republics to postpone the referendum (which they did not agree to), and assured Russia had no intention of annexing any of both territories.

The referendum organizers said that turnout in Donetsk was 76%, and 79% in Luhansk. In the former province, "yes" gathered 90% of the votes, while in the latter ballots supporting self-government were between 94% and 98%. Kiev holds that those figures are false. Interim President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchinov says that according to the Ministry of the Interior, actual participation was 24% in Luhansk and 32% in Donetsk: "A farce that will have no legal consequences," he said. The EU expressed a similar view.

One of the leaders of the People's Republic of Donetsk declares independence

And although the word used in the question was not clear, one of the leaders of the People's Republic of Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, has decided to go ahead this afternoon by proclaiming the independence of the new country. He has also requested admission into the Russian Federation, in a mechanism similar to that conducted in Crimea.

The People's Republic of Donetsk was proclaimed on April 7th, after a group of pro-secession activists occupied several government buildings in Donetsk. Since then, the rebels have controlled more and more buildings and territory in the province, a process that has also taken place in neighbouring Luhansk. Similar attempts in the provinces of Kharkov and Odessa have not been successful so far. Some leaders of those revolts say the ultimate goal is independence for the whole eastern and southern Ukraine, which would then give birth to a new federation called New Russia.