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Vote proceeds in E. Ukraine; turnout 'high'

By Xinhua in Kiev | China Daily | Updated: 2014-11-04 07:52

Two independence-seeking regions in eastern Ukraine held "presidential and parliamentary elections" on Sunday amid criticism from Kiev and the West.

In the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, 350 polling stations out of 364 were open, said Roman Lyagin, head of the Central Election Commission.

"All the members of the commission are at their designated stations. The turnout is significant. People have lined up at the polling stations," RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as saying.

In Lugansk, another self-proclaimed people's republic, 102 polling stations were open.

The Central Election Commission in Donetsk announced preliminary results from exit polls showing that the current leader of the region, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, is leading with 81 percent of the vote.

The elections have triggered an uproar from the Ukrainian government and the West.

Late on Sunday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the elections in the two regions a "farce". He called on Russia to refrain from recognizing the "so-called elections because they are a clear violation of the Sept 5 Minsk Protocol, which was also signed by Russia's representative".

The Minsk Protocol was adopted by the Ukrainian government and opposition groups in the Belarusian capital in September as a cease-fire was sought.

The Security Service of Ukraine said it launched a criminal investigation into the ongoing elections to punish "actions aimed at forceful change or overthrow of the constitutional order or takeover of government".

Meanwhile, the European Union and the United States have also condemned the elections.

New obstacle

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said late on Sunday that she considered the elections in Donetsk and Lugansk a new obstacle on the path toward peace.

"The vote is illegal and illegitimate, and the European Union will not recognize it," Mogherini said.

She said the vote was held contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Minsk Protocol, which was signed by representatives of the trilateral Contact Group, and obstructs efforts to find a sustainable political solution to the crisis.

US National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement: "We deplore the intent of separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine to hold illegitimate so-called local 'elections' on Sunday."

She warned Russia against "using any such illegitimate vote as a pretext to insert additional troops and military equipment into Ukraine".

Moscow, however, announced on Sunday that it respected the expression of the will of the people in southeastern Ukraine to vote by election.

"Elections in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in general were well-organized. The turnout was high," the Russian foreign ministry said, stressing that those who were elected have received a mandate to restore normalcy of life.

 Vote proceeds in E. Ukraine; turnout 'high'

A separatist embraces a woman while celebrating the ending of voting day for the leadership and local parliamentary election of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, in Donetsk, on Sunday. Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters

(China Daily 11/04/2014 page12)

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