Separatists in Ukraine cheer huge turnout

 
Kate McCann
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SEPARATISTS in the east of Ukraine last night hailed a number of self-rule referendums in the region a success, despite accusations of fraud.

Voters in the country went to the polls to determine whether eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk will remain in Ukraine or operate under self-rule. Votes were being counted overnight and a result is expected today.

The Ukrainian government has called the referendums a “criminal farce” and accused Russia of being behind the action, although the Russian government called for the vote to be delayed. The regions will go to the ballot box again later this month to decide whether to join Russia or not.

Separatists in the east told Russian news agency Interfax yesterday that they expect to win the right to rule themselves, with one activist warning that once the result is announced, all Ukrainian military personnel in the area would be considered occupying forces.

BBC reporters on the ground in the country spoke of chaotic scenes yesterday, with some voters casting two ballots and long queues to cast votes at many of the polling stations.