Members of a local election commission empty a ballot box as they start counting votes of yesterday's referendum on the status of Lugansk region in Lugansk May 11, 2014 (Reuters) Election commissions in Donetsk and Lugansk are still counting the ballots, but preliminary results show the majority of eastern Ukrainians supported self-rule, despite intensified military operation by Kiev which resulted in several deaths, rt.com reports.
After the last polling station closed in Lugansk and Donetsk regions at 23:00 local time, election commissions began counting the votes.
According to preliminary results – based on phone call reports from local commissions – in Donetsk region 89.7% of votes were cast in favour of political independence from Kiev. In Lugansk region preliminary results have not yet been announced, but the leader of the local “people’s front” said only around 5% voted against the “Act of state self-rule of the Lugansk People's Republic.”
Central election commissions are yet to receive the official reports from the polling stations across the regions. Earlier it was said the documents would not be transported until the morning over the fear of possible attacks and provocations.
Despite fears that amid Kiev’s intensified military crackdown – which killed at least two civilians on referendum day – the turnout will be low, in both of the region it was unexpectedly high. In Donetsk it reached 74.87%, while in Lugansk the central election commission says 81% of eligible voters came to the polling stations.
With such a huge turnout, the referendums have been recognized as valid by both election commissions.
Kiev however, calling the regional voting on self-determination illegal, sent its recently formed paramilitary forces in an apparent move to disrupt referendums.
As armored military vehicles blocked passage to polling stations, voting in four towns across Lugansk region was disrupted. In the Donetsk town of Krasnoarmeysk, the National Guard shot at a crowd and killed two civilians who were protesting their attempt to seize a polling station.
The final results are expected be announced during region wide rallies on Monday.