What's Clear After Ukraine Vote: Not Much
Ukraine president calls sovereignty referendum a 'farce'
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted May 12, 2014 7:43 AM CDT
Members of an election committee count ballots after voting closed at a polling station in Donetsk, Ukraine, Sunday, May 11, 2014.   (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

(Newser) – In the wake of eastern Ukraine's vote on independence yesterday, one word is showing up repeatedly in media reports: unclear. The referendum organizers' preliminary results show those who cast a ballot overwhelmingly voted in favor of sovereignty for Donetsk and Luhansk, but beyond that much is uncertain—and even those results are fraught with issues. The aftermath:

  • Russia says it respects "the will of the people." But it's calling for "dialogue" between Kiev and the eastern regions, and the Guardian takes that to mean annexation is unlikely. Russia said it is "counting on practical implementation of the outcome of the referendum in a civilized manner, without any repeat of violence."

  • The head of Donetsk's vote organizers says the referendum itself won't change any borders, but the region will have the power to decide on its future.
  • The New York Times, however, reports that "voting took place in such a raw state of lawlessness" (and violence) that only organizers and Russian supporters seem likely to see the polls as "a democratic expression of the voters' will." The Times also notes that those who would have voted "nay" seemed to have steered clear of the polls.
  • Ukraine's interim President Oleksandr Turchinov slammed "the farce that terrorist separatists call a referendum" as "nothing more than propaganda to cover up murders, kidnappings, violence, and other serious crimes," the BBC reports. The EU and US have called the referendum illegitimate.

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May 12, 2014 11:36 PM CDT
The whole goal was to drag Russia into some sort of conflict. It failed with Syria and it failed in Ukraine. Looks like Putin wins. Again.
May 12, 2014 2:59 PM CDT
Regardless of what happens, both Russia/EEC and US/EU will proclaim improper outside influence and intimidation. Some of those proclamations will be right, some will be wrong... but all of them will be spun in support of the two group's respective desired end results. Not sure that Ukrainian citizens' majority national desire (if it even exists) is being stated, let alone heeded with any kind of common global respect. If this is not a call for, challenge to, and justification of having the UN exist now and into the future to identify and project a country's self-determination intents, then I do not know what else could possibly present such a reason. Back off, Russia/EEC and US/EU! Step it up, UN!
May 12, 2014 9:10 AM CDT
Now we know why Putin backed off from this (calling for a delay) - he saw this would be a disorganized sham and there was no clean win in the making like he got in Crimea. Besides, this region is his foothold in Ukrainian politics. Can we get to the legitimate national election May 25 already??