Ukraine's Donetsk region vote 89% in favour of independence: rebels

Sunday 11 May 2014 22.39
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The EU said it will not recognise the result of a referendum on self-rule held by pro-Moscow rebels in east Ukraine
The EU said it will not recognise the result of a referendum on self-rule held by pro-Moscow rebels in east Ukraine
A Ukrainian man casts his ballot at a polling station in Donetsk
A Ukrainian man casts his ballot at a polling station in Donetsk
An armed pro-Russian activist stands guard outside a regional state administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk
An armed pro-Russian activist stands guard outside a regional state administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk

Rebels in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine have claimed that 89% of voters had cast ballots in favour of independence in a disputed referendum on today, with 10% against.

"These can be considered the final results," Roman Lyagin, the head of Donetsk's self-styled electoral commission, told reporters shortly after polling stations closed.

Donetsk is the larger of two eastern Ukrainian regions where separatists held a referendum on self-rule.

The vote has been declared illegal by the pro-Western government in Kiev and the European Union.

Elsewhere, one man was shot dead and a second was wounded when the Ukrainian National Guard tried to disperse a crowd outside a municipal building in the eastern Ukrainian town of Krasnoarmeisk.

The Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted witnesses as saying the incident occurred when members of the Guard's "Dnipr" battalion fired shots as a crowd tried to block their entry into the building.

It gave no details of the shooting.  Video taken at the building showed a crowd dispersing as shots rang out.  It was unclear where the shots came from.

Earlier French President Francois Hollande denounced separatist votes by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine as "null and void".

On a visit to the ex-Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, Mr Hollande said the votes in Donetsk and Lugansk made "no sense" and that only Ukraine's presidential vote on 25 May mattered.

The US slammed the polls as "illegal" as the West fears they could spark civil war in the former Soviet republic.

The poll was being carried out in provinces where insurgents hold over a dozen towns.

Although a 'Yes' vote would likely only be recognised by Russia, it would undermine a presidential election Ukraine is to hold in two weeks, which the US and the EU see as crucial to restoring stability.