(adds detail, quotes, context)
MOSCOW, March 28 Ukraine's deposed president
Viktor Yanukovich called on Friday for each of the country's
regions to hold a referendum on its status within Ukraine,
instead of presidential elections planed for May 25, Russia's
state Itar-Tass news agency reported.
"As a president who is with you with all my thoughts and
soul, I urge every sensible citizen of Ukraine: Don't give in to
impostors! Demand a referendum on the status of each region
within Ukraine," Yanukovich, who fled to Russia last month, was
quoted as saying in an address to the people of Ukraine.
His comments, after Moscow annexed Crimea following a
referendum there in favour of joining Russia this month, echo
Russia's call for Kiev's new leaders to enact nationwide
constitutional reforms that may grant broader powers to the
"Only an all-Ukrainian referendum, not a snap presidential
election, can, in a significant way, stabilise the political
situation and preserve sovereignty and Ukraine's (territorial)
integrity," he said.
Ukraine remains deeply divided over protests that led to
Yanukovich's ousting and many eastern Russian-speaking regions
are sceptical over the policies of the new government in Kiev.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Alissa de Carbonnel;
Editing by Alison Williams)