Naturally, Pro-Russian Insurgents Claim Victory in East Ukraine Referendums

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4:39 p.m.: Representatives of the pro-Russian insurgency are claiming that 90 percent of those who voted in today's independence referendums cast ballots in favor of independence from Ukraine.

Seems a little low, but you can't win 'em all I suppose.

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."

The Euromaiden was skeptical:

2:05 p.m.: There are reports of some intense violence in one of the regions currently hosting independence referendums today in eastern Ukraine. Multiple sources say Ukraine national guardsmen opened fire on a crowd today causing a number of injuries and perhaps multiple fatalities.

Sunday's bloodshed in the town of Krasnoarmeisk occurred hours after dozens of guardsmen shut down voting in a referendum on sovereignty for the region.

Original Post:

The eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been bases for pro-Russian insurgencies, are hosting referendums on self-rule today. The votes are considered illegal and invalid by the Kiev government.

Both regions have been home to some of the most serious conflicts between Ukrainian authorities desperately trying to maintain control and pro-Russian separatists, which have stormed and occupied government buildings.

As we mentioned earlier this week, the regional referendums are not about joining Russia (yet), but simply declaring autonomy from Ukraine (nyet). Even Russian President Vladimir Putin recently asked that these votes be delayed. The separatists aren't trying to hear that.

Here's some on-the-ground color from the voting today.

Election officials said more than 30 percent of voters cast ballots in the first three hours of voting. With no international oversight mission in attendance, confirming such claims is likely to be all but impossible.

At one polling station in 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 the option for autonomy had been selected."

Or, in other words:

Recent polls showed that most Ukrainians (Crimeans aside) hope to remain part of a unified country and so while the referendums reflect some of the local sentiment, the majority (even in the east) still wants the country to remain united.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.