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Ukraine rebels: 89% and 96% voted for self-rule in Donetsk and Luhansk referendums

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Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk regions – have announced 89% and 96% respectively voted in favor of “self-rule”.

Ukraine has condemned two unofficial referendums organized in the east of the country as “a farce” with no legal basis.

Russia has called for the results to be implemented without any further outbreaks of violence.

In a brief statement, the Kremlin described the referendums as “the will of the people” and noted the “high turnout”.

Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk say 89 percent and 96 percent respectively voted in favor of self-rule

Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk say 89 percent and 96 percent respectively voted in favor of self-rule (photo Getty Images)

The Russian authorities said they expected the results of the vote to be implemented in a civilized manner, without any repetition of violence and called for dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk.

The Kremlin suggested that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) could help organize such a dialogue.

Later Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there were no plans to hold fresh international talks on the crisis – he accused the West of an “information blockade” over events in Ukraine and of “shameless lies”.

Earlier, Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchynov told Ukraine’s parliament that “the farce that terrorist separatists call a referendum is nothing more than propaganda to cover up murders, kidnappings, violence and other serious crimes”.

The EU and US also said the polls were illegal.

A number of towns in the two eastern regions refused to hold the referendums.

They were held despite an earlier call by Russian President Vladimir Putin to delay them in order to create the conditions necessary for dialogue.

After the first round of voting in which voters were asked whether they supported self-rule, a second round of voting is planned in a week’s time, asking whether people support joining Russia.

Organizers also say they will boycott Ukraine’s presidential elections on May 25.

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