Referendum Kicks off in East Ukraine
It is referendum day in east Ukraine for the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic.” The West and Ukraine claimed the referendum is illegal and neither will recognize the vote. Russian President Vladimir Putin even asked the pro-Russian forces to delay the vote.
The ballot asks people one question and it does not mention Ukraine or Russia: “Do you support the act of state self-reliance of the Donetsk People’s Republic?”
However, people are not totally sure exactly what “self-reliance” means. According to The Independent, there were some people who thought it meant a completely independent Donetsk republic while others said it means greater autonomy within Ukraine.
The referendum was quickly put together and the ballots printed on regular paper without any watermark to prevent fraud. In fact, over 100,000 ballots marked YES were found in a trunk of a pro-Russian car on Saturday. There are also no international observers or voter rolls at the polling stations.
Journalists on the scene are documenting the referendum on Twitter. David Blair with The Daily Telegraph asked about a voters’ roll to stop multiple votes and was told, “People are too decent for that.” Mike Giglio with Buzzfeed found many pro-Ukrainians were not voting because they view the referendum as fake.
Christopher Miller at The Kyiv Post warned journalists to be careful after armed men told journalists at two polling stations to stop filming and taking pictures. He then reported several journalists were taken and one was tied to a chair and beaten.
Here are a few pictures of the referendum.