The slide on Russian share prices has gathered pace on news from southeast Ukraine, where legislators in the Donetsk region have announced their intention to hold a referendum on the creation of a Donetsk People’s Republic.

The RTS stock index was down nearly 3 percent by 2:34 p.m. Moscow time to below the 1200-mark. The MICEX stock index had fallen 2.23 percent to 1352.1.

Ruble-priced benchmark stocks were down 4 percent-6 percent on the Moscow Exchange (MOEX: MOEX) in some cases by 2:37 p.m., with drops of 6.1 percent for Federal Grid Company (FGC UES) (MOEX: FEES), 3.9 percent for Russian Grids (MOEX: RSTI) – 3.9 percent, 3.8 percent for Inter RAO UES (MOEX: IRAO), 3.6 percent for Gazprom (MOEX: GAZP) and 3.2 percent for Sberbank (MOEX: SBER)