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Elections held in separatist regions of eastern Ukraine

November 2, 2014

Voters are going to the polls in two regions of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia separatists. Kyiv as well as several Western countries, including Germany, have said they will not recognize the results.

Ukraine Wahl 2. November 2014
Image: picture-alliance/EPA/A. Ermochenko

The rebels who control the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic have said they hope that Sunday's polls will help give their authorities a degree of legitimacy.

However, Kyiv and Western governments have said this will not be the case, at least in their eyes. Critics say the very manner in which the elections are being held undercuts any claim of legitimacy, in part because no voter lists were drawn up ahead of time.

The pro-Russia separatists who organized the elections have said that anyone inside the territories they hold, including foreign volunteer fighters, would be given the opportunity to cast ballots.

Kyiv has also said that the polls violate the Minsk ceasefire deal of September 5, which only allows for local elections to be held in accordance with Ukrainian law.

President Petro Poroshenko has described the polls as "pseudo-elections," while German Chancellor Angela Merkel used a conference call on Friday to urge Russian President Vladimir Putin to reconsider Moscow's decision to recognize the results. The European Union, Merkel stressed, would not recognize the elections.

Little doubt over outcome

The main candidates are the current rebel leaders, Alexander Zakharchenko in Donetsk and Igor Plotnitsky in Luhansk. Correspondents report that the two men are all but certain to be confirmed in their posts, as their challengers are relatively obscure.

Pro-Russia rebels began fighting against Ukrainian government troops back in April in a bid to win independence from Kyiv for the two regions. The run-up to the elections saw an upsurge in fighting, despite the Minsk truce, with around 300 people reported killed over the past fortnight. An estimated total of 3,700 people have been killed in the two conflicts.

The polls, which opened at 0500 UTC, were to remain open for 12 hours.

pfd/tj (Reuters, dpa, AFP)