Organizers of Sunday’s independence referendum in Ukraine’s eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk say 89 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of seceding from Ukraine.
The results were announced just three hours after the polls closed and after reporters were told they would not be ready.
The separatists say 10 percent rejected independence and that turnout was 75 percent. The early results are impossible to independently verify as there were no international monitors present in Donetsk.
A VOA reporter in Donetsk describes the election as a “shambles,” with no clear procedures on tallying the ballots, reports of multiple voting, and makeshift ballot boxes.
The head of the separatists’ election commission, Roman Lyagin, told VOA multiple voting was impossible because people had to queue for about half-an-hour to vote – therefore no other precautions were necessary, he said.
Some who voted for independence say they mistrust the central Ukrainian government and believe a unified Ukraine is impossible. Those who oppose secession say the whole election is illegal and did not bother to cast a ballot.
There is no information yet on results from Luhansk, the other eastern region that held an independence referendum Sunday.
The central Ukrainian government in Kyiv called the voting a “criminal farce,” and the United States and its European allies denounced it as illegal.