What's Clear After Ukraine Vote: Not Much

Ukraine president calls sovereignty referendum a 'farce'

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 12, 2014 7:43 AM CDT

(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.

Members of an election committee count ballots after voting closed at a polling station in Donetsk, Ukraine, Sunday, May 11, 2014.
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)
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