Donetsk referendum organizers plan to begin 'civilized divorce' with Kiev authorities
The leaders of the Donetsk People’s Republic plan to "begin talks on civilized divorce with Kiev’s central authorities at the very least," he said. "We want to be a party to the negotiating process, which rests on the will of the people, and to build relations with all states on the basis of equal rights."
He said that the referendum was absolutely legal. "People are standing in 300-400 meter lines to cast their votes at polling stations," Litvinov noted. "Even in the Soviet times we never saw such queues."
Civilian and military authorities independent from Kiev will be formed in the Donetsk region following the results of the referendum on the region's status, the Donetsk people's republic government co-chairman Denis Pushilin told a press conference on Sunday.
"Now that we have assumed the responsibility, we need to form the bodies of political and military power within the shortest period of time," Pushilin said.
"The military formation staying in our territory will be recognized illegal and called invaders after the official announcement of the referendum results," he said.
They already are, Pushilin said. The tense situation in the region is no obstacle to the voting process in the Donetsk region, he also reiterated.
"Even those polling stations, whose work was sabotaged and which were not prepared for the vote, people there made ballot-boxes with their own hands. This did not stop the people from making their own choice and deciding their own future," said the government representative of the Donetsk people's republic.
Meanwhile, a decree signed by Pushilin, imposing sanctions against several US and EU politicians, has been posted on the website of the "Donetsk people's republic."
The list of individuals banned from entering the Donetsk republic, includes, in particular, US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.
Similar but conditional sanctions have been applied to British Prime Minister David Cameron, Interfax reports.
Over 470 journalists "from many countries" are covering the Donetsk status referendum on the region’s self-determination, co-chairman of the government of the declared Donetsk People’s Republic Denis Pushilin reports today. He said that absolutely all journalists willing to cover the current referendum were given a free hand.
The question asked at the referendum in the Donetsk Region is "Do you support the State Independence Act of the Donetsk People’s Republic?" It is printed in Russian and Ukrainian, and the versions of the answer are "yes" and "no".
Earlier, the central election committee of the Donetsk People’s Republic reported that over 3mln. ballot papers had been printed for the referendum.
The majority of polling stations in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region are operating normally, people are voting in a referendum on the region’s future status, Boris Litvinov, the chief election commissioner of the Donetsk People’s Republic, told reporters on Sunday.
Queue to various polling stations have formed in Mariupol. Many people want to vote in self-determination of the Donetsk region referendum on Sunday morning, Rossiya-24 TV channel correspondent reports.
"The referendum began. Voting is under way. Of course, there are some problems, but the majority of polling stations are working," he said.
As many as 1,527 polling stations have been organized in the Donetsk region. Due to communication problems, there is no full information about the situation in a number of polling stations, Litvinov acknowledged.
At least 118 stationary and 12 mobile polling stations are operating in the region’s capital Donetsk.
All the polling places opened in the town of Artyomovsk and 35 stationary and five mobile polling stations opened in Kramatorsk.
People in the neighboring Lugansk region also went to polls on Sunday to vote in a similar referendum organized by federalization supporters. Turnout at the referendum on the status of Lugansk region at 9.00 local time (an hour after the polls opened) was estimated at 22 percent, the organizers said to RIA Novosti.
Kiev used troops, armor and heavy artillery against federalization activists in both regions in a fierce attempt to disrupt the vote. Dozens of civilians were killed.
Voting began in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions at 8:00 am local time on Sunday, May 11, in a referendum on those regions' status. There is only one question on the ballot sheets: Do you support the state independence of the Donetsk People's Republic in the Donetsk region or the Lugansk People's Republic in the Lugansk region?
More than 1,500 district elections commissions have been organized across the Donetsk region. They will stay open from 8:00 am (12:00 am GMT) till 10:00 pm local time (03:00 am GMT) with the exception of Slavyansk where voting will end at 6 pm (11 pm GMT) for security reasons.
More than 3.1 million ballots have been printed for the referendum in the Donetsk region.
Earlier, the Central Elections Commission of the Donetsk People's Republic announced that the referendum would be declared valid irrespective of the turnout.
In the neighboring Lugansk region with a population of 2.4 million, polling stations in the mining towns of Alchevsk and Popasnaya will stay open until 11 pm local time (04:00 GMT) to enable the miners working night shifts to come and vote.
About 1.7 million ballots by the number of the region's eligible voters were printed and delivered to all of the region's polling districts. More than 1,610 polling stations were organized across the region. The Lugansk Central Elections Commission is headquartered in the region's administrative center, Lugansk.
The Lugansk People's Governor Valery Bolotov announced earlier that the outcome of the vote would be valid under any turnout.
People lined up to polling stations in Mariupol for the Sunday referendum on the self-determination of Ukraine's Donetsk region.
"The atmosphere [at the polling stations] is very lively. Many people have come to vote. They form long lines," a correspondent for Russia 24 channel reports from Mariupol.However, he said, there is no information about the exact number of polling stations.
"The stations are under guard. Self-defense members and ordinary people patrol surrounding territories to prevent provocations," the correspondent said adding that neither the developments of May 9, nor possible provocations have changed the determination of voters to take part in the referendum, Interfax reports.
In Slavyansk, Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, polling stations in a region-wide referendum on the status of the Donetsk People's Republic opened as planned on Sunday despite artillery fire traded by Ukrainian troops at roadblocks on the outskirts of the besieged town, a RIA Novosti news agency correspondent reports.
There are about 60 polling stations in Slavyansk. Some of them had to be merged for security reasons. People began coming early even before the polls opened. Journalists visited some of them and saw ballot boxes ready for voting and the election staff at work. Music is being played at polling stations.