US denounces referendum plans in east Ukraine

Updated at: 05/06/2014 3:57 PM

(AP) WASHINGTON - WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says a planned referendum by pro-Russian separatists on independence for portions of eastern Ukraine this weekend would be illegal.

The State Department said Tuesday that the referendum would be bogus and would not be recognized by any "civilized nation." Spokeswoman Jen Psaki (SAH'-kee) said such a vote would be reminiscent of the independence vote in Crimea that led to Russia's annexation of the strategic Ukrainian peninsula in March.

Few nations recognize the annexation and the United States and Europe have hit Russia with sanctions over the annexation, although Russia remains in control of Crimea.

Psaki said all Ukrainians should vote on their future governance in nationwide elections set for May 25.

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