The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

World News

May 8, 2014

Pro-Russia insurgents to hold vote in east Ukraine

(Continued)

DONETSK, Ukraine —

In the Black Sea port of Odessa, which has remained tense after clashes last week that left 46 people dead, Ukraine's security agency arrested four people accused of funding pro-Russia activists. The agency said the suspects, who were not identified, had financed radical groups in an effort to cause unrest.

Authorities have beefed up security in Odessa, fearing more riots on Friday when ex-Soviet nations celebrate their victory in World War II. A new police battalion and a volunteer unit have been formed to patrol the streets.

A poll released Thursday showed that a strong majority of Ukrainians want their country to remain a single, unified state — and this was true even in the largely Russian-speaking east, where the pro-Russia insurgency has been fighting.

The poll conducted last month by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of people nationwide want Ukraine to maintain its current borders, while nearly as many, or 70 percent, in the east feel the same. Only among Russian speakers does the percentage drop significantly, but it is still over half at 58 percent.

The central government in Kiev has the confidence of only about 41 percent of Ukrainians, with a sharp divide between the west of the country, where support is 60 percent, and the east, where it is a low 24 percent, according to the poll.

Russia, however, is viewed with great suspicion, with three times as many Ukrainians surveyed saying Russia is having a bad influence on their country as those who say its impact is positive.

In Crimea, which Russia annexed in March, 93 percent of people surveyed expressed confidence in Putin and said Russia was playing a positive role. Their confidence in U.S. President Barack Obama, on the other hand, was recorded at a dismal 4 percent.

In a parallel survey Pew conducted in Russia last month, 61 percent agreed that there are parts of neighboring countries that belong to Russia. The 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union left many ethnic Russians in other countries, including a swath of eastern and southern Ukraine that Putin has described as historically Russian territory.

In another echo of Putin, 55 percent of Russians surveyed said they saw the Soviet collapse as a great tragedy.

The poll in Ukraine was conducted April 5-23 among 1,659 adults, and the one in Russia April 4-20 among 1,000 adults. Both have a margin of error of about 3.5 percentage points.

___

Associated Press writers Lynn Berry and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Yuras Karmanau in Odessa contributed to this report.

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