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Insurgents say Ukraine region opts for sovereignty



DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - Ninety percent of voters in a key industrial region in eastern Ukraine came out in favor of sovereignty Sunday, pro-Russian insurgents said in announcing preliminary results of a twin referendum that is certain to deepen the turmoil in the country.

Roman Lyagin, election chief of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, said around 75 percent of the Donetsk region's 3 million or so eligible voters cast ballots, and the vast majority backed self-rule.

With no international election monitors in place, it was all but impossible to verify the insurgents' claims. The preliminary vote count was announced just two hours after the polls closed in an election conducted via paper ballots.

A second referendum organized by pro-Russian separatists was held Sunday in eastern Ukraine's industrial Luhansk region, but no immediate results were released.

Ukraine's central government and the West had condemned the balloting as a sham and a violation of international law, and they have accused Moscow of orchestrating the unrest in a possible attempt to grab another piece of the country weeks after the annexation of Crimea.

Eastern Ukrainian Regions Hold Referendum On 'Self-Rule'


The results of the two referendums could hasten the breakup of the country and worsen what is already the gravest crisis between the West and Russia since the end of the Cold War.

Although the voting in the two regions with a combined population of 6.5 million appeared mostly peaceful, armed men identified as members of the Ukrainian national guard opened fire on a crowd outside the town hall in Krasnoarmeisk, and an official with the region's insurgents said people were killed. It was not clear how many.

The bloodshed took place hours after dozens of armed men shut down the voting in the town.

The shooting starkly demonstrated the hair-trigger tensions in the east, where pro-Russian separatists have seized government buildings and clashed with Ukrainian forces over the past month.

Even before the results were announced, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry called the twin referendums a "criminal farce." The U.S. and other Western governments said they wouldn't recognize the outcome.

Earlier in the day, the head of the referendum organizers in Donetsk said the ultimate status of the region would be discussed later and would include the possibility of secession or annexation by Russia.

"We are just saying to the world that we want changes, we want to be heard," election commission head Roman Lyagin said.

The violence in Krasnoarmeisk, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the regional capital, Donetsk, came hours after armed men, one of whom said they were from the national guard, put a stop to the voting and took control of town hall.

In the evening, more armed men arrived in a van, and a scuffle broke out with people gathered around the building. Then the men fired shots.

An Associated Press photographer who witnessed the shooting said two people lay motionless on the ground. Insurgent leader Denis Pushilin was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency as saying there were an unspecified number of deaths.

Over the past few weeks, the Ukrainian government and the West have accused Russia of trying to destabilize the country or create a pretext for another invasion. Russia - which annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula just days after voters there approved secession in a March referendum - has rejected the accusations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had asked the organizers of the latest referendums to delay the vote in an apparent attempt to ease the crisis. The insurgents refused.

At one polling station at a school in Donetsk, turnout was brisk in the first hour of voting. All voting slips that could be seen in the clear ballot boxes showed that self-rule had been selected.

Most opponents of sovereignty appeared likely to stay away from the polls rather than risk drawing attention to themselves.

Darya, a 25-year-old medical worker who would not give her last name, said she saw no point in casting a ballot, since the vote had no legal force.

"There were no notices about this referendum anywhere, about where and when it was happening," she said. "In any case, it is not valid, so there was no reason to take part."

There were no immediate signs of any outright intimidation by pro-Russian forces Sunday, and insurgents near the polls were not wearing their usual balaclavas.

The haphazard nature of the referendums was in full display at Spartak, a leafy village on the fringes of Donetsk.

Villagers were unable to vote for about three hours after the polls opened because election officials failed to bring a ballot box. Finally, an election organizer arrived with a voting urn crudely fashioned from cardboard boxes and sealed with tape.

Most present said they were voting in favor of autonomy and against the interim government headed by acting President Oleksandr Turchynov. One said she would not take part in a nationwide presidential election set for May 25.

"I don't agree with what is happening in the country. And I want some changes for the better. What is happening on May 25 is not honest, truthful or in our best interests. And that is why I am voting today," said Irina Zelyonova, 30, cradling her baby in her arms.

Turchynov and Ukraine's caretaker government came to power in February following the ouster of Kremlin-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych after months of protests in Kiev. Moscow and many in Ukraine's east have accused the new government of intending to trample the rights of eastern Ukraine's Russian-speakers.

More than 30 people have been reported killed since Ukrainian forces began trying to retake some eastern cities from the insurgents.

___

Mark Rachkevych in Kiev, Ukraine, contributed to this report. AP photographer Manu Brabo contributed from Krasnoarmeisk.

Join the discussion

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thewebdoctorisin May 12 2014 at 6:09 AM

The old USSR moved these people there, let them send trucks and move them back to Russia...then everyone will be happy!

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deychr May 12 2014 at 8:39 AM

75% - 90% !!!! Does it mean anything to you people ?! Bunch of idiots. What separatists ? What pro-Russian gangs ? Majority of People !! ....

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1 reply
BroPower deychr May 12 2014 at 8:58 AM

The votes were rigged -- hundreds of thousands of pro-Russia voted appeared instantly..
How long do you think it would take to count millions of paper votes?
They 'claim' to have done it in 2 hours!
And YOU think this pro-Russia election was legal?

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1 reply
skitzlpk BroPower May 12 2014 at 10:39 AM

On a simple "yes/no" ballot, with hundreds of precincts & thousands of workers counting the ballots, it doesn't take long to simply go down & tabulate an overwhelming response.

Perhaps you have a comprehension curve that wouldn't allow you to do this?

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T. A. Saltsman May 12 2014 at 8:43 AM

No doubt, the pin heads will pin all this on Putin. Reducing politics to "dictators," real or alleged, is so typically dishonest of the far right. It's their nature to ignore the will of the vast majority of the people anywhere in the world and make everything a power struggle between the good bullies and the bad ones.

But another basic political premise is at work here as is so often the case.

Is America the real champion of non-violent conflict resolution--typically called 'democracy,' 'due process,' or just 'civilized behavior'--or is she the world's worst enemy of such, overtly or covertly overthrowing everything that gets in the way of her fascist fat cats that pride themselves on their shamelessly rapacious greed?

Those who know their recent history know that America, here as elsewhere (especially in Vietnam and Venezuela), is the WORLD'S WORST ENEMY OF DEMOCRACY. Her current opposition to the peaceful people's will here in Eastern Ukraine is just more proof of that.

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4 replies
skitzlpk May 12 2014 at 8:53 AM

Is there a new form of democracy the left is attempting to institute? Absolutely none of this makes sense.

If the clear cut majority of these easterners vote for autonomy & the newly formed gov't holding power by means of a coup come in & gun them down,, how is it the west can support this in any way?

Also, how is it possible they can determine those supporting the Kiev gov't didn't cast their vote? Did everyone wear a certain color shirt or cast their vote on a billboard for all to see? Is the obvious outcome of the tally of votes not desirable to us?

All of this might break the mold of the normal voting process but the violence is summarily coming from Kiev, not Russia!

I haven't seen one single part of a normal process implemented by western Ukraine! I'm ashamed of the United States position,, our gov't is beyond wrong on their entire stance in this dilemma!

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2 replies
pttsbrbell7 skitzlpk May 12 2014 at 9:13 AM

because obama is one of them if you would wake you wouldnt have to ask that ouestion.

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1 reply
skitzlpk pttsbrbell7 May 12 2014 at 9:17 AM

If I would wake up? WTF!!

What exactly do you think I was saying?

I get tired of saying his name actually & if you read a little more closely to my comment,, you'd notice who I was blaming!

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babyfizzy skitzlpk May 12 2014 at 10:05 AM

If armed men are standing next to a cardboard box sealed only with tape... and tell me to scribble down my "vote" on a piece of paper with absolutely NO privacy... do you think I'm going to vote against their position?

If you see this as legitimate democracy, then you need to brush up on your History 101. And while you're reading, try to look for similar patterns in the past. There is no way that 90% of a population with ~30% ethnic Russians voted this way.

This is just sloppy on all sides. I'm surprised you really have enough confidence to condemn your country's stance on this issue when the issue itself is unfolding in such a slipshod, shady way. Furthermore, what is being reported can be guaranteed to only be half-true at best.

But, you can continue to criticize your country on this and many other matters as much as you want. That's the beauty of living in a country who doesn't (as prolifically) rig elections or threaten bodily harm against you for expressing your dissent.

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1 reply
skitzlpk babyfizzy May 12 2014 at 10:28 AM

So please tell me where you've read this has occurred, the armed gunmen at the ballot box?

It's misconceptions like yours that spread misinformation on something I've said repeatedly should be apolitical. I deal with the here & now & have labeled this fiasco as should be neutral from all sides.

I would love to debate someone like you based on the "factual timeline" of occurrences so far happening in the Ukraine then you can tell me how unpatriotic I am to stand against my own nation.

Yes, it takes a strong person such as myself to separate issues which unfortunately, those like you don't have the capacity to break happenings down into their factual basis. You want to judge Russia on a convenient past supporting your side, not what is happening before us.

This is why we are lost, there are no more "clear thinkers" left to sort through the misinformation before us.

I would eat you alive based on facts only but please judge me on a few paragraphs.

I laugh at you..

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c.moorebutz May 12 2014 at 9:04 AM

Sudetenland was a part of czechoslovakia that had belonged to germany many,many decades ago and those sudentland germans wanted to be closer to hitler, just like the ukrainian rebels who want closer ties with russia. well hiter invaded czechoslovakia and putin will do the same to ukraine

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1 reply
bchbum63 c.moorebutz May 12 2014 at 9:12 AM

Last time I checked Hitler never held elections.

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1 reply
Trevor Ham Marshall bchbum63 May 12 2014 at 10:17 AM

Not that I would defend Hitler by any means, but you should look into actual history. How do you think he came to power in the first place? It was through election, though not a fair and un-manipulated voting public. Kind of like here, except for now at least we have less overt violence.

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almazstmp May 12 2014 at 9:05 AM

It's a referendum on fascism.

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1 reply
Camp Bulldog almazstmp May 12 2014 at 9:27 AM

A FORCED....violently CONTROLLED "Referendum"

That is their first mistake....


But it is the Soviet way. Too bad the Ukraine Government has had their fill of these Rebels.

(hint!!! next time the building does catch on fire....get out )

http://nj1015.com/poll-most-ukrainians-want-unifed-nation/

A strong majority of Ukrainians want their country to remain a single, unified state and this is true even in the largely Russian-speaking East




The poll conducted last month by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of people nationwide want Ukraine to maintain its current borders, while nearly as many, or 70 percent, in the east feel the same. Only among Russian speakers does the percentage drop significantly, but it is still over half at 58 percent.

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1 reply
almazstmp Camp Bulldog May 12 2014 at 9:51 AM

The only violence in that referendum came from the Kiev fascists.

Flag +2 rate up
Bill May 12 2014 at 9:08 AM

Why won't our Administration recognize the "Russian Spring"?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
Randy Bill May 12 2014 at 10:05 AM

Because they are mostly Christians and not muslims....

Flag Reply +2 rate up
cwb0804 Bill May 12 2014 at 10:07 AM

Because it was the Ukrainian winter! The citizens of Ukraine decided they no longer wanted to be ruled by a puppet of putin. The only reason why the violence is happening in the east of Ukraine is because the mad midget from Moscow has sent special forces into Ukraine and armed every thug and criminal that speaks russian.

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almazstmp May 12 2014 at 9:15 AM

Odessa, lets go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Drive those fascist zhlobov back to Lvov.

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2 replies
Camp Bulldog almazstmp May 12 2014 at 9:22 AM

http://nj1015.com/poll-most-ukrainians-want-unifed-nation/

A strong majority of Ukrainians want their country to remain a single, unified state and this is true even in the largely Russian-speaking East




The poll conducted last month by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of people nationwide want Ukraine to maintain its current borders, while nearly as many, or 70 percent, in the east feel the same. Only among Russian speakers does the percentage drop significantly, but it is still over half at 58 percent.

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cwb0804 almazstmp May 12 2014 at 10:03 AM

Another cossack posting here! Your comment is laughable. All of the people in Odessia that I know want russia to quit inciting violence in their country. Even as out numbered as they are they will fight the russians if invaded. The people in Odessa will drive the russian fascists from their lovely city

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kgc073 May 12 2014 at 9:25 AM

Click here: The New Black Panther Party Evidence on Voter Intimidation | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Herita

We did not here much about this in our own country.

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1 reply
kgc073 kgc073 May 12 2014 at 9:26 AM

http://blog.heritage.org/2010/07/21/the-new-black-panther-party-evidence-on-voter-intimidation/

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wewilldestroyyoufromtheinside May 12 2014 at 9:35 AM

I could have told you who would "win" before the election took place..!
Putin is using a new "kind of war" to take over countries.
He 'learned how' from the same guy who won elections right here in America...!
Only Putin didn't need to bus-in his 'voters' or hand out 3x5 cards with their names and addresses on them like Obama's gang did here..!

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2 replies
cwb0804 wewilldestroyyoufromtheinside May 12 2014 at 9:51 AM

Only the republicans and teabaggers have enacted leglislation and regulations to steal the right to vote from the people. Only the republicans and teabaggers have move polling stations to places that those who rely on public transportation can reach. Only republicans and teabaggers harasss people entewring the polling stations. If you want to find voter fraud here you only need to look at the republicans and teabaggers.

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4 replies
Richard wewilldestroyyoufromtheinside May 12 2014 at 9:55 AM

With your warped thinking and lack of facts maybe you need to move to a country that is in the dark about the truth and freedom. You really need a crash course in loyalty and freedom............

Flag Reply 0 rate up
2 replies
thetruthliveson4ever Richard May 12 2014 at 9:58 AM

"you need to move to a country that is in the dark about the truth and freedom".
You mean "Obama's America"..?

Flag +2 rate up
Camp Bulldog Richard May 12 2014 at 10:07 AM

Loyalty Freedom..... Maybe you need a reality check..... Join the Marine Corps.

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