Employees at Donetsk utilities companies are being forced to sign petitions demanding a referendum on the “self-determination” of the Donetsk Oblast. The former deputy of the Lenin district of the Donetsk city council, Dmytro Verzilov, described this effort on Donetsk Public Television on April 2, reported Ukrainska Pravda.
According to Verzilov, people at these companies are being pressured by their managers, who support the “separatists.” Drivers of the bus and tram company DonElectroAvtoTrans complained to Verzilov that when they arrived at work they were forced to sign this petition.
“Each tram conductor is being forced to support this separatist referendum through a combined voluntary-compulsory approach, with threats,” he said. Additionally, drivers are forced to sign a demand to make Russian the official language of the county and to join the Customs Union.”
Verzilov visited Depot No 4 of DonElectroAvtoTrans, where he asked the company’s employees to show the signed petitions, stating that he was acting on behalf of the Lenin District Council.
The signatures for the referendum were being collected by toolmaker Albina Bayramova. She stated that she was acting on her own initiative and not at the direction of company management. She explained that she does not support the separation of the Donetsk Oblast from Ukraine but wants a decentralized government. According to her, this is the content that she included in the “referendum for self-determination.”
Bayramova said that she was given the petition signature sheets on Lenin square, where the pro-Russian forces have put up tents, and that she was unaware that a referendum on self-determination by a separate region in Ukraine is impossible.
However, Verzilov accuses city authorities of supporting separatism. According to his sources, the signatures for the referendum are being collected with the approval of the city authorities who do not yet dare to support the separatists openly .
The government is taking advantage of the fact that not all people fully understand the meaning of the terms “referendum” and “self-determination.” When asked, the workers at the depot said they were not for “separatism” but rather for the “decentralization” of government, Verzilov said.
The DonElectroAvtoTrans company is headed by the Party of Regions MP Volodymyr Zakharov, head of the Donetsk City Council.
Translated by Anna Mostovych