LUHANSK, November 2 (RIA Novosti) — The acting leader of the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) has cast his vote in the ongoing presidential and parliamentary elections in eastern Ukraine, a RIA Novosti correspondent on the scene said Sunday.
"I voted for a strong state, a free people, a peace in Luhanshchina, for love, faith and happiness of my own people," Igor Plotnitsky told journalists outside the polling station in the city of Luhansk.
Our correspondent reports a large voter turnout in Luhansk, with a steady stream of voters heading to the polling stations since 8 a.m. local time (5:00 GMT). Morning voters have been waiting in lines together with their loved ones. They told RIA Novosti the elections were going to shape their future.
Igor Plotnitsky said he was not surprised by a high voter turnout. "After we held the referendum and the people realized that freedom is not just an empty word that means some don't have any power at all – people felt they could take charge of their own lives and their own country," the LPR leader said.
He added security has been tightened in the region. There are more patrols in the streets for the duration of the elections.
Plotnitsky said he did not rule out provocations from Ukrainian government's troops on the election day.
"This threat is real, no one is trying to play it down, the atmosphere is rather tense," he told reporters. "If Ukraine resumes its military activities and tries to intimidate [people in the east], it will once again prove that they are what they are, they humiliate their own people and take away their right to vote freely," the republic's head stressed.
The neighbor regions of Luhansk and Donetsk are voting in the local elections that are expected to give legitimacy to their governments. The polls will last until 8 p.m. (17:00 GMT).
The local election commission head said earlier that preliminary results will be made known on Monday and the final ones on Tuesday, November 4. Ballot papers will be counted by hand.
Four candidates are running for the leader of the LPR. The acting head of government, Igor Plotnitsky is largely expected to be elected. He will compete for a four-year presidency against LPR health minister Irina Airapetyan, union chief Oleg Akimov and businessman Viktor Penner. A LPR leader will be elected for a four-year term.