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On E. Ukraine Voting, US Slams Kremlin Social Media, Mistral Not Mentioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 10 -- On the eve of the planned referendums in Eastern Ukraine, two days after the IMF wouldn't say it was concerned about them, the US State Department issued this:

As the United States has said, the referenda being planned for May 11 in portions of eastern Ukraine by armed separatist groups are illegal under Ukrainian law and are an attempt to create further division and disorder. If these referenda go forward, they will violate international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The United States will not recognize the results of these illegal referenda.

In addition, we are disappointed that the Russian government has not used its influence to forestall these referenda since President Putinís suggestion on May 7 that they be postponed, when he also claimed that Russian forces were pulling back from the Ukrainian border.

Unfortunately, we still see no Russian military movement away from the border, and today Kremlin-backed social media and news stations encouraged residents of eastern Ukraine to vote tomorrow, one even offering instructions for polling stations in Moscow. Russian state media also continue to strongly back the referenda with no mention of Putinís call for postponement.

The focus of the international community must now be on supporting the Ukrainian governmentís consistent efforts to hold a presidential election on May 25. International observers note that preparations for these elections are proceeding apace and in accordance with international standards, which will allow all Ukrainian people a voice in the future of their country. According to recent independent polls, a substantial majority of Ukrainians intend to vote on May 25. Any efforts to disrupt this democratic process will be seen clearly for what they are, attempts to deny the rights of Ukraineís citizens to express their political will freely.

As President Obama and Chancellor Merkel stated on May 2, the Russian leadership must know that if it continues to destabilize eastern Ukraine and disrupt this monthís presidential election, we will move quickly to impose greater costs on Russia.

The Russian government can still choose to implement its Geneva commitments, as well as follow through on President Putinís statement of May 7. We call on them to do so.

  While citing Germany's Merkel, the State Department spokesperson's statement doesn't mention she met May 10 with France's Francois Hollande, who re-affirmed his country's sale of Mistral warships to Russia, click here for that.

  But is the International Monetary Fund, given its new program with Ukraine, concerned about the referendums still slated to go forward this Sunday, May 11?

  IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice at the Fund's embargoed May 8 press briefing resisted using the word ďconcern,Ē saying that he wouldn't speculate. Asked if the more than $3 billion already disbursed might be used for military purposes, or to re-pay Russia, Rice said it was for budget support, to stabilize public finances and for budget deficit.

But many have said the IMF position that if Kyiv further loses control of the East the program would have to be revised creates an incentive to use force. Not surprisingly, Rice did not agree with this. But the incentives remain that way.

Rice was asked to state what the IMF's interest rate for Ukraine is, but didn't, saying it is a matter of public record.

Inner City Press submitted five questions two of which, on Bosnia and Ghana, were answered at the briefing and will be separately reported. Watch this site.


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