Ukraine votes as Moscow distances itself from ‘rebels-led referendum’

In the dozen or so rebel-controlled towns, voters lined up calmly on Sunday to cast ballots. Most checked ‘yes’ to the question ‘Do you approve of independence for the People’s Republic of Donetsk?’. It was the same story in the neighbouring province of Lugansk.

Some in east Ukraine voiced their opposition to the vote, which concerns the seven million people living in the two provinces, out of Ukraine’s total 46 million population.

‘It’s an illegitimate action carried out by an unknown group of people who took over the administration buildings and run around with weapons in their hands,’ growled one Donetsk resident, Anatoli Kozlovskiy.

The Kiev government was equally scathing. ‘The organisers of this criminal farce have violated the constitution and Ukrainian law,’ the foreign ministry said in a statement. Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly distanced himself from Sunday’s vote, making an appeal for it to be postponed, but was ignored by the rebels. 
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