Czech president says Ukraine referenda illegitimate but could reflect views of part of population

Czech president Miloš Zeman has said that referenda in two areas of Eastern Ukraine on autonomy could be taken as the expression of the desire of a certain section of the population although there was no question of recognizing the legitimacy of the votes themselves. The head of state’s stance was communicated on Monday by his spokesman. The Czech government, like others in Western Europe, has refused to recognize the referenda held over the weekend by Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Zeman urged as many Ukrainians as possible to take part in presidential elections on May 25. Many Russian speakers in the east say they will boycott them. President Zeman has sought to position himself as a possible intermediary in the crisis between Ukraine and Russia.