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Ukraine regions hold sovereignty vote

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-05-12 07:09

Ukraine regions hold sovereignty vote

People cast their votes at a polling station in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 11, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

Ukraine regions hold sovereignty vote

Eastern Ukrainian cities stick to referendum 

Ukraine regions hold sovereignty vote

Ukraine Crisis 
Local residents in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions went to the polls on Sunday in referendums aimed at seeking independence from the country.

People were asked on the ballot: "Do you support the act of state-rule of the Donestk (Lugansk) People's Republic?"

Some 2,900 polling stations remain open from 8:00 am local time (0500 GMT) to 10:00 pm (1900 GMT) in the two self-proclaimed republics.

About 3 million ballots have been distributed in towns and cities in the two regions with a total population of 6.6 million. Organizers said no minimum turnout is required for the result.

If the majority of local population votes to secede from Ukraine, organizers intend to hold a second round on May 18, which will ask voters whether they want to join Russia.

Ukrainian authorities and some Western countries denounced the controversial referendums as "illegal."

"The organizers of this criminal farce have violated the constitution and Ukrainian law," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The vote "will have no legal consequences for the territorial integrity of Ukraine," the statement said.

Sergiy Pashinskiy, chief of staff for the country's interim presidency, also called the referendum "a pitiful attempt of the terrorists and murderers to use people of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions to cover up their crimes."

The situation remained calm in most of the two regions as voting got under way, but sporadic clashes were reported in some cities and towns.

According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, an army soldier was wounded in a mortar shelling when activists exchanged fire with government troops near a TV tower on the outskirts of the town of Slaviansk.

The clash broke out shortly before voters made their way to polling stations through streets blocked by barricades of felled trees, tyres and rusty machinery.

Donetsk and Lugansk regions became an epicenter of the eastern protests in mid-April, when activists waving Russian flags seized government buildings, declared separatist republics and announced plans to hold a referendum on seceding from Ukraine.

The referendums were held after Crimea joined Russia on March 18 following an independence referendum in the southern Ukraine peninsula, which was not recognized by the West.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the protesters in Donetsk and Lugansk to postpone their referendums and seek dialogue with Ukrainian authorities, which was, however, ignored by the protesters.

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