KIEV - Ukraine's interim president on Monday slammed the rebel-held "referendum" in two eastern regions as a "propaganda farce without any legal basis" that sought to cover up serious crimes.
"The farce that terrorist separatists call a referendum is nothing more than propaganda to cover up murders, kidnappings, violence and other serious crimes," Oleksandr Turchynov told Ukraine's parliament.
The only "legal effect" of Sunday's referendum would be to bring those that called it to justice, the interim president said.
He however reiterated his desire to "continue dialogue with those in the east of Ukraine, who have no blood on their hands and who are ready to defend their goals in a legitimate way."
Pro-Russian rebels in two eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk held referendums on independence on Sunday which the West slammed as a farce amid fears they could bring the former Soviet republic closer to civil war.
The rebels in Donetsk declared the results a few hours after polls closed, saying that nearly 90 per cent had voted in favour of independence with a 75 per cent turnout.
The other province, Lugansk, was due to declare its voting later on Monday but the results were expected to be roughly the same.