A British home in the Ukraine

Citizens of the Ukrainian city of Donetsk have looked to the history books for a way forward from the civil unrest in recent months, and proposed a referendum to become part of the United Kingdom.

The new campaign is taken to be tongue-in-cheek, in parody of the Crimean referendum to join Russia, but the inspiration comes from the identity of the founding father of Donestk, a Welshman named John Hughes.

Hughes founded the city in 1869 when he built a steel plant and several coal mines in the southern part of the Russian Empire at Aleksandrovka.

Originally the town was called Hughesovka, or Yuzokva, after the local russified name John Yuz.

“Donetsk residents! English Brothers! The decisive moment has come,” the online campaign declares.

“We demand a referendum on returning Yuzovka to its historical fold as part of the UK! Glory to John Hughes and his city! God save the Queen!”

The campaign, which has seen 7000 votes by last Sunday, has even garnered 16 per cent support for the city adopting English as its primary spoken language.

Donetsk is the fifth largest city in Ukraine, and the home of ousted president Viktor Yanokovich.

Donetsk is known as place of pro-Russian sentiment, which has seen violent clashes over Ukrainian ties with Russia, and rumours from Kiev suggest that pro-Moscow rallies in eastern Ukraine are organised by Russian provocateurs and members of the Russian secret service.

In November last year the Ukrainian parliament passed a resolution to open a national John Hughes museum in Donetsk, as well as issue a commemorative stamp for the 200th anniversary of his birth next year.

Plans involve the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, Donetsk regional state administration and city council refurbishing the former home of Hughes in the city and housing the museum within it, while broadcast media have been encouraged to present educational TV and radio programmes about Hughes.

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