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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
KYIV, UKRAINE (BosNewsLife)– Initial election results of Sunday’s blood-stained referendum in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region claim nearly nine out of 10 voters want to breakaway from the country.
The head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic election commission, Roman Lyagin rushed to announce the outcome, amid deadly clashes nearby and reports that a priest was killed.
“89 percent of voters said yes,” to breakaway from Ukraine he explained. He added that “10 percent voted against, while there was a turnout of nearly 75 percent.”
Similar results were expected in the neighboring Luhansk region where a similar referendum was held.
Ukraine’s government, the United States and the European Union have made clear they would not recognize the referendums, which were overshadowed by shootings.
Near the regional capital Donetsk, armed men identified as Ukrainian national guard opened fire Sunday after taking over a polling station.
Pro-Russian separatists said there were fatalities while independent reports said at least one person died.
The bloodshed in the town of Krasnoarmeisk occurred hours after an angry crowd tried to prevent dozens of armed men, several of them wearing masks, from reaching the town hall.
“Why are you here? Show your faces,” the crowd shouted, adding: “Scandal, Scandal! We will survive. Go home.”
Clashes were also reported elsewhere in the region.
Local news reports said Archpriest Pavel Zhuchenko of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate was killed near a roadblock post in the Donetsk Region.
Ukrainian officials blamed pro-Russian forces, who they described as “terrorists” but an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of the father of three was still underway Monday.
And in the city of Slovyansk, at least two Ukrainian soldiers were reported injured in weekend fighting, as pro-Russian activists attacked government troops guarding a television transmitter.
Despite the turmoil, organizers plan to hold another referendum on whether to join Russia, raising fears that the country is plunging into civil war.
(BosNewsLife (2004-2014) is the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians. It has been ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since May 2004).
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