Kiev, May 7 :
Ukrainian lawmakers have voted against holding the referendum on the country’s territorial integrity and the decentralisation of power demanded by pro-Russian militants in southeastern Ukraine.
The Party of Regions and the communists, who supported the May 25 referendum, came up with 154 votes in favour of the referendum, falling well short of the 226 needed to approve the motion made during a closed-door session, media reports said.
“In favour, 154. Not passed. Thank God! (The referendum) Must be held, but not in the middle of a war,” Alexandr Briguinets, a lawmaker who belongs to the governing Fatherland Party, said in a Facebook post, after Tuesday’s vote.
Pro-Russian forces want a referendum held May 25 to coincide with the country’s presidential election, giving voters an opportunity to weigh in on giving the regions more political and economic power.
Lawmakers also rejected a proposal by Ukraine’s acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to hold a non-binding straw ballot instead of a referendum on the regions.
Yatsenyuk supports giving local governments many of the political and economic powers now held by the central government, and allowing regional governors to be elected by the people.
Pro-Russian militants plan to hold a referendum May 11 in Donetsk, an eastern region that has been a hotbed of anti-Kiev protests.
The Russian foreign ministry Monday labeled Yatsenyuk’s proposal to hold a non-binding vote “cynical” and “removed from reality”.