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Exit poll: Rebel chief Zakharchenko to win eastern Ukraine vote

Alexander Zakharchenko, the main rebel leader in Ukraine's largest separatist region, is due to win a disputed election, according to an exit poll. Kyiv and Western governments say they won't recognize the results.

According to an exit poll carried our by separatists, the main rebel leader in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, is on track to win a controversial rebel leadership vote.

Rebel election chief Roman Lyagin said on Sunday evening that Zakharchenko was on course to claim 81.37 percent of the vote in the presidential poll, adding that Zakharchenko's party, Donetsk Republic, was also set to claim 65 percent of the parliamentary vote.

Western opposition

The other prominent candidate was Igor Plotnitsky in Luhansk. Pro-Russian separatists, who control much of eastern Ukraine, organized Sunday's polls in the hope of giving their authorities a degree of legitimacy. Polls were open for 12 hours from 7 a.m. local time (0500 UTC).

Kyiv and Western governments, however, continued to stress on Sunday that they would not recognize the elections.

'Clear violation'

Earlier on Sunday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, had called on Moscow to denounce the results of the rebel leadership vote.

"The farce that is being conducted under the threat of tanks and guns by the two terrorist organizations in parts of Donbass is a terrible event that has nothing to do with the real will," Poroshenko said in a statement.

"I count on Russia not to recognize the so-called elections because they are a clear violation of the September 5 Minsk protocol, which was also signed by Russia's representative," he added.

According to the ceasefire deal, local elections can only be held in accordance with Ukrainian law.

ksb/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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