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Rebels declare victory in east Ukraine vote on self-rule

Published on May 12, 2014 9:40 AM

DONETSK/SLAVIANSK (REUTERS) - Pro-Moscow rebels declared a resounding victory in a referendum on self-rule for eastern Ukraine, with some saying that meant independence and others eventual union with Russia as fighting flared in a conflict increasingly out of control.

Organisers in the main region holding the makeshift vote on Sunday said nearly 90 per cent had voted in favour.

Well before polls closed, one separatist leader said the region would form its own state bodies and military after the referendum, formalising a split that began with the armed takeover of state buildings in a dozen eastern towns last month. Another said the vote simply showed that the East wanted to decide its own fate, whether in Ukraine, on its own, or as part of Russia.

"Eighty-nine per cent, that's it," the head of the separatist electoral commission in Donetsk, Roman Lyagin, said by telephone when asked for the result of a vote that the pro-Western Ukrainian government in Kiev has condemned as illegal.

Members of an election commission count ballot papers at a polling station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on May 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP  
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