News / Europe

Ukraine Separatists Claim 89 Percent Voted for ‘Independence’ of Donetsk Region

Ukraine Separatists Vote in Eastern Regionsi
Patrick Wells
May 11, 2014 8:30 PM
Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk went ahead with referendums Sunday over whether to secede from Ukraine. Rebel authorities claimed the turnout was high, but Ukraine’s government, the United States and the European Union immediately condemned the polls as illegal. Patrick Wells reports from Donetsk.
Related video by Patrick Wells
VOA News
Organizers of Sunday's independence referendum in Ukraine’s eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk say 89 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of seceding from Ukraine.
The results were announced just three hours after the polls closed and after reporters were told they would not be ready.
The separatists say 10 percent rejected independence and that turnout was 75 percent. The early results are impossible to independently verify as there were no international monitors present in Donetsk.
A VOA reporter in Donetsk describes the election as a "shambles," with no clear procedures on tallying the ballots, reports of multiple voting, and makeshift ballot boxes.

The head of the separatists’ election commission, Roman Lyagin, told VOA multiple voting was impossible because people had to queue for about half-an-hour to vote - therefore no other precautions were necessary, he said.
Some who voted for independence say they mistrust the central Ukrainian government and believe a unified Ukraine is impossible. Those who oppose secession say the whole election is illegal and did not bother to cast a ballot.
There is no information yet on results from Luhansk, the other eastern region that held an independence referendum Sunday.
Kyiv condemns

Ukrainian acting president Oleksandr Turchynov condemned Sunday's unofficial referendum as a farce, inspired by Russia to destabilize Ukraine and topple the country's leaders in Kyiv.
He said in a statement that the polls had no legal consequence for the country.
“These processes are inspired by the leadership of the Russian Federation and are destructive to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions' economies and threaten the lives and welfare of citizens and have the aim of destabilizing the situation in Ukraine, disrupting [May 25] presidential elections and overthrowing Ukrainian authorities,” the statement read.
It is still unclear whether so-called independence would mean more autonomy within Ukraine, an attempt to create an independent state, or a move to join Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had urged the separatists to postpone Sunday's voting. The United States says it is disappointed the Kremlin did not use more influence to persuade the separatists to put it off.
A similar referendum in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March led to Russia's annexation of the region and the current crisis throughout eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists are in control of a number of towns and cities.
There was at least one incident of violence with pro-Kyiv militiamen exchanging fire with a group of what appeared to be civilians outside a town hall in Krasnoarmiysk. A leader of pro-Russian insurgents in the region said there were fatalities. The shooting occurred hours after the militiamen shut down a referendum there.

Earlier, Turchynov warned secession supporters that independence for the regions would be "a step into the abyss." He appealed to the rebels to join talks on greater autonomy in the east.

US will not recognize votes

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said late Saturday the United States will not recognize the results of the referedums in eastern Ukraine. She said the polls "violate international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Psaki said the United States is "disappointed" Russia did not use its influence in the region to postpone the voting, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's suggestion last week to delay the vote and his claim that Russian forces were pulling back from the Ukrainian border.

Psaki said the United States does not have any indication the Russian military is moving away from the border. She said Russian state media continued to "strongly back" the referendums "with no mention of Putin's call for postponement."

She said the Russian leadership must know that if it continues to destabilize eastern Ukraine and disrupt presidential elections later this month, "we will move quickly to impose greater costs on Russia."

EU won’t recognize results

The European Union has joined Kyiv and the U.S. in saying that it, too, considers the votes in eastern Ukraine as “illegal” and won’t recognize their results.

“The so-called referenda in ... parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions were illegal and we do not recognize the outcome. Those who organized the referenda have no democratic legitimacy,'' Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said in e-mailed comments to Reuters.

She said holding the referenda ran counter to the objectives of an agreement reached by Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the United States last month that aimed to defuse the Ukraine crisis.

Ukraine's Crimea region was annexed by Russia in March after a similar vote.

A Moldovan ‘Crimea’?

A senior Russian politician said on Sunday he had brought to Moscow a petition by residents of Moldova's Russian-speaking, breakaway region of Transdniestria that backs union with Russia.

Dmitry Rogozin's comments will likely rattle Moldova, a former Soviet republic which, like neighboring Ukraine, is seeking closer ties with Europe but faces stiff resistance from Moscow.

Transdniestria, which says it broke from Moldova in 1990, has long sought to join Russia and the West fears the narrow sliver of land on the Dniestr river will be Moscow's next target following its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in March and its support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow said it has the right to protect its compatriots and Russian-speakers abroad but denies Western accusations that it is fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine as a possible pretext for an intervention.

Jamie Dettmer contributed to this story from Donetsk. Additional information was provided by Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: rus from: Russia
May 14, 2014 12:13 AM
Department of State: United States did not agree with the results of a hockey game.
U.S. reported categorical disagreement with the so-called "victory" the Russian national team in a match at the world hockey championship. This was stated by the speaker of the U.S. State Department J.Psaki: "This match had nothing to do with this hockey. In the 21st century can not play hockey as if in the court of the 20th century. Imperial ambitions Russian national team and demonstrate the methods of conducting themselves in games, as it was during the worst years of the Soviet Union: dirty shaybovaya roundabout which arranged the Russian team at the gates of the U.S. team and blocking democratic goals in the gate, it is an attempt to revise the status quo and the threat of European security. " While J. Psaki reporter's question specified that does not know what the carousel, but it is written in the text, and it is sure that it is something terrible and incompatible with human values: "We have no doubt that behind all of this Russia. This is evidenced by Putin's recent participation in the match so-called "Night Hockey League," where he personally scored 6 goals in the opponent's goal. Now it becomes obvious his whole bloody idea, it was all planned in Russia from the beginning. " She also said that President Obama has expressed deep concern about the results of the game and said that "Russia is not only located on the wrong side of history, but also on the wrong side of geography, physics and even fikultury." She also said that against the Russian national team players will be immediately introduced economic sanctions: "We, together with our European partners around the world, decided to introduce immediate broad economic sanctions against the persons directly involved in the incident. Russia will pay dearly for it. We have adopted difficult decision all discount cards Russian national team players in European and American networks, sports stores Reebok, Nike, Adidas will be frozen until the next seasonal sales. Artists imperial designs must understand that they will not go away. " Separately, Ms. Psak said defiantly shaved in protest against Eurovision beard hockey Ovechkin: "It is a protest against the common European values, against the choice of Europe, In the 21st century, you can not just pick up and shave his beard if you do not like, this is unacceptable beard should immediately return! "
Later it became known that the 6th U.S. fleet will be immediately thrown to the shores of Belarus to strengthen security during the World Cup. Lack of Belarus shores apparently did not bother the White House.
In Response

by: rus from: Russia
May 14, 2014 11:10 AM
PS: Thank you very much VOA site administration, allowed for the fact that my comment. This, of course, was a joke. I hope that humor will save the world. World for all of us! :-))
Sorry for my bad English. :-(

by: gen from: Japan
May 13, 2014 6:12 AM
Someone tells me the Soviet history.Thanks. His story is under Staline Soviet. Me too.I don't like Soviet era. But "NOW" US and West support inhumane act of kiev.We can see now.Most of Russian say they were also victimes under Staline era. Mr Gen from Japan understands Soviet well,But we are talking not Soviet but Russia. LOL.

by: Anonymous
May 12, 2014 5:00 AM
The USA have double standards and are not ashamed to put it on display for everyone to see. Better yet, it thinks other can't figure it out. Referendum to cast the vote and decide to go with Russia is not OK, but to support criminals from Kosovo to secede from Serbia is OK!? To go and chase weapons of mass destruction is OK, for Russians to look after their own people is not OK!? It's so irresponsible to rush and support the new Ukrainian government when you know: it is less legal than the previous one, can not survive economically without help from Russia, and you will not support it military. It's a sad move by the States that will put Ukrainian people through horrendous sufferings for many decades to come. It's shameful for the States to seek its own happiness in misadventures and misery of others!

by: William from: Melbourne
May 12, 2014 4:57 AM
For goodness sake, can we allow these people to determine their own future without having it imposed upon them: by right wing extremists in Kiev, Russophobe extremists in the land of the brave and the home of the free, the US and EU governments, and a media that months ago chose to propagandise in support of those determined to bring down the elected president and government of Ukraine. Surely, anyone who enjoys the benefits of democracy and the right to vote for those who rule them will support the right of the people of eastern Ukraine to do the same!

by: meanbill from: USA
May 12, 2014 1:17 AM
The Ukrainian people should turn on those neo-Nazi, Right Sector, and ultra-right wing pro-western coup leaders who seized the Ukraine government by force, and destroyed the whole democratic country of Ukraine.... (Yea they did)..
They are the traitors to the country and to the people, and they sought power without regard to the democratic wishes of all Ukrainians, and they should be tried and given the maximum sentence traitors get, for their betrayal... (WHY did the Ukraine people let them do it?)

by: MOD from: china
May 12, 2014 12:00 AM
I just watched a video that the government's military shot at the voters . Why can't U see what is happening the in the Ukraine............ WE MUST FIND THE TRUTH !

by: gen from: Japan
May 11, 2014 11:36 PM
I think the vote is irresistible to law.It doesn't matter legal or illegal.They excuted the referendum surrounded by right sectors and Ukraine army like no-Nazi.Nazists.They showed their will "The government in kiev is NO".
If we don't respect their decision,we are human without common sense.or We are not human.Unarmed demostraters with nomal dess were killed.They showed their will power.I repeat the referendum dosen't matter legal or illegal.
West set fire on kiev.Even if West don't admit their will,west lost no common sense world.What in the world we should believe? How God see this?
In Response

by: Gen from: Japan
May 12, 2014 3:15 PM
Gen, I could not understand your idiotic rumblings. I assume you are getting paid a few rubles to spread the midget KGB scum propaganda. But nobody in the West believes your moronic agenda about fascists or neo-nazis. Russia and Stalin signed a secret treaty in 1939 so Germany could annex Poland, which led to an even bigger, destructive conflict. Of course Russia does not mention this in its history books. Russia and its mindless, spineless people should be slaughtered. An evil country

by: Sergei
May 11, 2014 11:14 PM
A joke of a "referendum". Just as believable as the = Crimean one (of which only 15% of Crimeans voted for the illegal annexation).

by: meanbill from: USA
May 11, 2014 11:06 PM
I do believe there are over 16 Independent States not recognized by the UN, because one or more countries oppose recognizing them -- (SO?) -- who cares if the US, EU and other countries won't recognize them? -- Russia and other countries don't recognize KOSOVO either, do they?
The legality or illegality of the Donetsk and Luhansk independent states is in the eyes of the political views of the country that support them, -- like KOSOVO?
Putin read and studied "The Art of War" by sun Tzu -- and I guess the US, EU and NATO read the book and didn't understand it? --- "Know your enemy, and know yourself, and you can win a hundred battles, without losing a single man" .. by Sun Tzu... -- Crimea and more?

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
May 11, 2014 5:34 PM
This interim government is illegal itself, funny it calls others illegal.
Too many warnings, no one would care.
America will play paper tiger again. May be refuse more visa from Russia?
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