Putin discusses upcoming Crimean referendum with Merkel and Cameron

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has held telephone conversations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron on the situation in Ukraine and the upcoming referendum in Crimea, the Kremlin’s press service reports.

“Discussions went on about the extremely complicated socio-political situation in Ukraine as well as questions concerning the March 16 referendum in Crimea. Despite differences in their assessment of the situation, the sides voiced common concern to de-escalate tensions and speedily normalize the situation,” the report says.

A change of government bearing every sign of a violent coup d’etat occurred in Ukraine on February 22. The Verkhovna Rada was actually forced to oust President Viktor Yanukovych, appoint Alexander Turchynov acting President, Speaker of the parliament and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and call early elections for May 25.

On February, Arseniy Yatsenyuk was appointed to head a new government.

Vladimir Putin also made a point that the steps being taken by the legitimate Crimean authorities are based on international law and aim to protect the legitimate interests of the population of the Crimea.

“The Russian president also said that the current Ukrainian authorities are doing nothing to curb the ultra-nationalist and radical forces’ outrages committed in Kiev and many other regions,” the Kremlin press service said.

President Yanukovych said at a press conference in Rostov-on-Don that he had had to flee Ukraine because his life was under threat. He said that he remained the legitimately president of Ukraine. Russia questions the legitimacy of the Ukrainian parliament’s latest decisions. Crimea and a number of regions in eastern have refused to recognize Yanukovych’s removal and decided to hold referendums on their future status. Voters in Crimea will go to polls on March 16.

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