U.N. envoy warns of social collapse in parts of eastern Ukraine
Monday, May 19, 2014 - 01:42
May 19 - With less than a week before elections in Ukraine, a U.N. envoy warns that the eastern region of Donetsk could fail if nothing is done to stem the lawlessness there. Mana Rabiee reports.
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Near the Ukrainian rebel stronghold of Slaviansk, residents gawk over a blast site.
They say government forces fired a shell in their village on Monday.
Payback from the government in Kiev, they say, for holding a referendum on independence ahead of national elections.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) VIKTOR, RESIDENT OF VILLAGE NEAR SLAVIANSK, SAYING:
"We had a referendum, we voted. Kiev does not recognize our vote, our opinion. So this is the way they try to persuade us."
Pro-Russian separatists in the east refuse to take part in Sunday's crucial all-Ukraine election.
In Kiev, the Interior Minister says a rapid-reaction force is in place to snuff out attempts to wreck the vote.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ARSEN AVAKOV, INTERIOR MINISTER OF UKRAINE, SAYING:
"In hot spots, which we call red and pink zones, special procedures will be put in place with fast-response working groups created to fight provocation."
But the U.N. thinks dark shadows loom over Sunday's election.
On Monday, it said the situation has deteriorated to the point where eastern regions like Donetsk could collapse.
Thousands could soon flee the region.
U.N. human rights envoy Ivan Simonovic.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IVAN SIMONOVIC SAYING:
"There is a feeling of lawlessness of being unprotected and its also accompanied by fear that there may be, rather soon, a failure of social services."
The warning comes the same day Moscow said it's pulling its troops away from Ukraine's border.
NATO says it's seen no signs of a pullout.
Kiev and the West worry Russian troops could be used to invade Ukraine in support of rebels.
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