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Ukraine Update: Eastern Referenda Aftermath

This past Sunday, May 11, the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Lugansk held referenda on declaring independence from the rest of Ukraine, or “self rule.” The results that are being reported show 86 percent of ballots cast in Donetsk were in favor of independence, while 96 percent in Lugansk backed independence. Interestingly, a number of other towns in the east refused to hold the referendums.

The central government in Kiev—joined by the European Union and the U.S.—declared the votes illegal. The BBC quoted acting Ukrainian president Alexander Turchynov stating, “The farce that terrorist separatists call a referendum is nothing more than propaganda to cover up murders, kidnappings, violence, and other serious crimes.” On the other hand, the Russian government said that the results must be respected, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying, “We respect the will of the population of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions,” and adding an accusation that the West is conducting an “information blockade over the events in Ukraine,” and engaging in “shameless lies.” Mr. Lavrov also said there were no plans for additional international talks on the crisis.

Last week, Russian president Vladimir Putin asked the regions to delay the vote so conditions for dialogue could be created, but the regions went ahead with the vote anyway. In recent days, Mr. Putin also seemed to soften his opposition to the national presidential election scheduled for May 25.

Along with Ukrainian evangelical churches, we continue to watch this situation with great concern. Our shared desire is for a peaceful resolution—one that will preserve the great freedom that has been enjoyed by evangelical churches to worship freely and proclaim the Gospel. The churches in the region are implementing evangelistic outreaches, and SGA is assisting them through the Crisis Evangelism Fund. If you would like to learn more about this effort, click here.

Please continue praying with us for the churches and their labors for the sake of the Gospel.

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