DONETSK, November 2 (RIA Novosti) — The acting prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine has cast his vote in the ongoing polls that will elect the local parliament and the head of government, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from a polling station in Donetsk.
“I voted for peace and the future of our republic,” Alexander Zakharchenko told journalists outside the polling station in Donetsk School No 1.
A team of observers from the Donetsk-based OSCE security mission inspected polling booths on Saturday as well as voter registration desks at the school in the run-up to the election.
Zakharchenko said he believed the central government in Kiev would have to recognize the republic. “They will recognize us, give us our land back without a fight and we will establish good diplomatic relations,” he said, adding that “negotiations with Kiev are, of course, underway.”
Residents in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are voting for regional leaders and legislative bodies after both regions said they would ignore a separate election day set by the government in Kiev.
Both regions were earlier granted special status under a law passed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The same law also scheduled local elections for December 7.
Ukraine and several western powers said they rejected the elections. Kiev has been fighting the regions in the east for months, after launching a massive military campaign in spring, which killed almost 4,000 people, according to the United Nations.