Referendums for independence in the Ukraine’s eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk were completed Sunday. The results are the next step in the series of events creating continued tension in Ukraine.
Rebels in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine claimed that 89 percent of voters had cast ballots in favour of independence in a disputed referendum on Sunday, with 10 percent against.
“These can be considered the final results,” Roman Lyagin, the head of Donetsk’s self-styled electoral commission, told reporters shortly after polling stations closed.
He said that turnout was just under 75 percent.
Donetsk was one of two regions holding referendums on independence from Ukraine that authorities in Kiev have slammed as a “farce” and the West fears will bring the ex-Soviet Republic closer to civil war.
There was no immediate word on results from the other region, Lugansk, where polls closed slightly later.
Accounts of the referendum proceedings have fallen along the usual media propaganda war lines.
Over 3 million ballot papers were printed for Donetsk region. All in all, the organizers spent about 20,000 hryvnas (US$ 2,000) preparing for the vote in Ukraine’s industrial region, the heart of the country’s coal-mining. “The referendum will be considered valid whatever voter turnout will be,” Roman Lyagin, the head Donetsk election commission told reporters on Saturday.
In Donetsk, western observers were not present at the polling stations, commission officials said, as nobody expressed willingness to oversee the vote in the turbulent region. “We did not refuse anyone, there were no applications,” Lyagin said, adding though that over 470 international journalists were accredited in Donetsk.
Some 30 international observers were monitoring the voting in Lugansk region, where some 1.8 million are expected to take part in the referendum. “According to a survey, 83% of Lugansk residents are ready to support the Act of state self-rule of the People’s Republic of Lugansk,” said Igor Shakhov, the head of the local election commission.
Ukraine “Government” Response
The western selected government officials in Ukraine are denying that any of the ballots have legitimacy.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said the results of the referendum in Donetsk and Lugansk regions would not affect the country’s territorial integrity and form of government.
“Organizers of this criminal farce have consciously violated the Ukrainian constitution and laws, and have neglected calls coming from the authorities in Ukraine and from the international community,” the ministry’s statement read.
A report out of CBS News implicitly confirms the questionable nature of some election subversion.
CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward reports from eastern Ukraine that the voting did not come anywhere near international standards. Booths out in the open, people openly voting twice, and other irregularities raised serious questions about the legitimacy or the operation.
Ukraine National Guard
Despite rhetoric from the transitional Kiev authorities, Ukraine National Guard units appear to be acting impulsively on occasion.
Ukrainian national guardsmen opened fire Sunday on a crowd outside a town hall in eastern Ukraine and an official for the region’s insurgents said there were fatalities.
The bloodshed in the town of Krasnoarmeisk occurred hours after dozens of guardsmen shut down voting in a referendum on sovereignty for the region.
An Associated Press photographer who witnessed the shooting said two people were seen lying unmoving on the ground and insurgent leader Denis Pushilin was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency as saying there were an unspecified number of deaths.
Several hours earlier, guardsmen came to the town about 20 miles from the regional capital, Donetsk, and dispersed referendum voting that was taking place outside the town hall and they took control of the building. In the evening, more guardsmen arrived in a van and a scuffle broke out with people who were gathered around the building. Then the guardsmen fired shots.
— RT (@RT_com) May 11, 2014
— RT (@RT_com) May 11, 2014
Third Party Participants
Mercenaries from the outfit formally known as “Blackwater”?
In what is becoming a weekly ritual, the German press continues to demolish the US case of “idealistic humaniatrian” Ukraine intervention. Recall, that it was a week ago that German tabloid Bild am Sonntag, hardly the most reputable source but certainly one which reaches the broadest audience, reported that dozens of CIA and FBI agents were “advising the Ukraine government.” This conclusion is hardly a stretch and certainly based on facts considering the recent semi-secret jaunt by CIA head Brennan to Kiev. Fast forward one week when overnight the same Bild reported that about 400 elite mercenary commandos of the private US security firm, Academi, f/k/a Xe Services, f/k/a Blackwater “are involved in a punitive operation mounted by Ukraine’s new government” against east Ukraine separatists.
Bild cites sources who report that on April 29, Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) informed the Angela Merkel government about Academi commandos’ involvement in Kiev’s military operations in eastern Ukraine. Spiegel adds that “the information originates from U.S. intelligence services and was presented during a meeting chaired by the Chancellor’s Office chief Peter Altmaier (CDU). At the meeting were present the president of the intelligence agencies and the Federal Criminal Office, as well as the intelligence coordinator of the Chancellor’s Office and senior Ministry officials.”
Bild am Sontag did not have information about who was paying the Blackwater commandos: it is well-known they do not come cheap.
RT has more:
In March, media reports appeared suggesting that the coup-imposed government in Kiev could have employed up to 300 mercenaries.That was before the new government launched a military operation against anti-Maidan activists, or “terrorists” as Kiev put it, in southeast Ukraine.
At the time, the Russian Foreign Ministry said then that reports claiming Kiev was planning to involve “involve staff from foreign military companies to ‘ensure the rule of law,’” could suggest that it wanted “to suppress civil protests and dissatisfaction.”
In particular, Greystone Limited, which is currently registered in Barbados and is a part of Academi Corporation, is a candidate for such a gendarme role. It is a similar and probably an affiliated structure of the Blackwater private army, whose staff have been accused of cruel and systematic violations of human rights in various trouble spots on many occasions.
“Among the candidates for the role of gendarme is the Barbados-registered company Greystone Limited, which is integrated with the Academi corporation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “It is an analogue, and, probably and affiliated body of the Blackwater private army, whose employees have repeatedly been accused of committing grievous and systematic human rights abuses in different troubled regions.”
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