On Monday, officials in the eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk claimed an overwhelming victory in a controversial vote for "self-rule." Boris Litvinov, head of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk Central Election Committee, said that 90 percent of Donetsk voters approved independence. The second region holding an independence vote, Luhansk, is expected to report preliminary results later today.
The voting was reportedly rife with irregularities, and opponents of the plebiscites apparently stayed home. A Pew poll released last week found that 70 percent of eastern Ukrainians want to stay united with the rest of the country.
U.S. and Western European nations said the referendum is illegal and they won't recognize the results. Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov was more pointed, saying Monday that "this propagandist farce will not have any legal consequences, only criminal responsibility of its organizers." The Kremlin stopped just short of rolling out the welcome mat: "Moscow respects the will of the population of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and hopes that the practical implementation of the outcome of the referendums will proceed along civilized lines, without repeat outbreaks of violence."
A Ukrainian national guardsmen shot and killed at least one man in Krasnoarmiysk and fired into a crowd in the Luhansk region, wounding two.