May 10 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the scheduled referendum in eastern Ukraine is illegitimate and that the focus should be on the nationwide elections on May 25. Nathan Frandino reports.
As officials build ballots boxes in Donetsk, Ukraine, some world leaders are prepared to write off Sunday's referendum completely. The vote will decide whether the region will break from Kiev and establish self-rule. In Germany, French President Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel oppose the vote. At a news conference, Merkel said the focus should be on Ukraine's nationwide election. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL SAYING: "We consider the referendum scheduled for tomorrow illegitimate and focus on the election on May 25 in the entire Ukraine. The OSCE is needed for that and has already been involved. There must be a code of conduct for the candidates as well, in order to guarantee free and fair elections." The two leaders agreed that if the vote does not happen, there will be consequences, including further destablization of Ukraine and stronger sanctions against Russia. Back in Donetsk, officials are fast at work to prepare for the referendum. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ROMAN LYAGIN, HEAD OF CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION OF DONTESK PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC, SAYING: "My task is to give every resident of our region an opportunity to vote, then to determine the final number and to inform mass media and the whole world community about it. How the people of Donbass will deal with the result - I don't know, but I think the Crimean scenario is appropriate." Ballot papers have been printed for more than three million eligible participants in the vote, which has been declared illegal by Kiev.