Moscow's Ukrainians vote in pro-Russian separatist referendum

by Reuters
Sunday, 11 May 2014 17:18 GMT

MOSCOW, May 11 (Reuters) - Several thousand Ukrainians voted on Sunday at a makeshift Moscow polling station, joining a self-rule referendum by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine who want the region to break away from Kiev.

Nearly 3 million Ukrainians work in Russia, and there was no doubt about the preference of those who turned out to vote near the Kievsky railway station, where trains and buses leave for Ukraine.

"Of course I am going to vote to join Russia," said Marina Vashchyuk, a Ukrainian temporarily living in Moscow.

"We wish that there were no fascism, and that all people lived in peace and without any Kiev junta," said Oleg, another Ukrainian resident of the capital. "We came here to express our own will, because we are not currently in our homeland but in Moscow."

Voters brought their passports to prove that they came from eastern Ukraine. "Together we're the power; we're invincible!" some chanted.

It was not clear whether their votes would be counted by referendum officials. Ukraine has denounced the vote as illegal and farcical.

The vote follows weeks of fighting that began with the takeover by armed pro-Russian men of government buildings in a dozen eastern Ukrainian towns last month.

Russia has rejected Western accusations that it is whipping up tensions in its former Soviet neighbour. It denies any role in backing the separatists, and says it has no intention of invading or annexing eastern Ukraine. (Reporting by Steve Gutterman, Sergei Karpukhin, Gabriela Baczynska and Dimitry Madorsky; Writing by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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