DONETSK, Ukraine, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The breakaway group in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region says 89.07 percent of voters backed independence in its referendum Sunday.
The turnout for the referendum was 74.87 percent, and 10.1 percent voted against independence, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic's electoral commission, Roman Lyagin, said late Sunday.
"These can be considered as the final results," Lyagin said.
A woman voting in the center of Donetsk city said she was happy to see the referendum was going smoothly.
"I came here to vote in a pleasant mood and with confidence," she said.
Donetsk was one of two regions holding referenda on independence from Ukraine. The results from the other region, Lugansk, where polls closed slightly later, have not been announced yet.
People were asked on the ballot papers: "Do you support the act of state-rule of the Donetsk (Lugansk) People's Republic?"
About 3 million ballots were distributed in towns and cities in the two regions, which have a total population of 6.6 million.
Ukrainian authorities and some Western countries denounced the controversial referenda as "illegal."
"The organizers of this criminal farce have violated the constitution and Ukrainian law," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The vote "will have no legal consequences for the territorial integrity of Ukraine," it said.
The United States on Sunday rejected the referenda, saying it would not recognize the results.
State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said in a written statement the referenda were "illegal under Ukrainian law and are an attempt to create further division and disorder."
Washington and its European allies are focusing their efforts on the presidential polls in Ukraine slated for May 25, and have warned Moscow against disrupting the vote.
"The Russian leadership must know that if it continues to destabilize eastern Ukraine and disrupt this month's presidential election, we will move quickly to impose greater costs on Russia," Psaki said.
"The Russian government can still choose to implement its Geneva commitments, as well as follow through on (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin's statement of May 7," she said. "We call on them to do so."
Donetsk and Lugansk regions became centers of the eastern protests in mid-April, when activists waving Russian flags seized government buildings, declared separatist republics and announced plans to hold referenda on seceding from Ukraine.
The referenda were held after Crimea joined Russia on March 18 following an independence referendum in the southern Ukraine peninsula, which was not recognized by the West.
On Wednesday, Putin asked the protesters in Donetsk and Lugansk to postpone their polls and seek dialogue with Ukrainian authorities, but the request was rejected.
MOSCOW, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Russia said Monday it respects the choice of people in Donetsk and Lugansk regions in Ukraine, while hoping implementation of the referendum results to be processed along civilized lines.
"We have taken note of high voter turnout despite attempts to derail the voting and we condemn the force used, including military hardware, against civilians, which lead to fatalities," the Kremlin press service said in a statement. Full story
KIEV, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Ukrainian acting President Olexandr Turchynov on Monday rejected referendums in eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions, in which polls showed around 90 percent of people vote in favor of independence from central government in Kiev.
"The propagandistic farce, which terrorists qualify as the referendum, will have no legal consequences except the criminal responsibility for its organizers," Turchynov was quoted by the parliament' s press service as saying. Full story
WASHINGTON, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Sunday rejected the referendums being held in two regions of eastern Ukraine over their future status, saying it would not recognize the results.
"As the United States has said, the referendums being planned for May 11 in portions of eastern Ukraine by armed separatist groups are illegal under Ukrainian law and are an attempt to create further division and disorder," State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said in a written statement. Full story
LONDON, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Sunday said in a statement that it "regrets" the referendum in Ukraine.
Commenting on referendums held Sunday in Ukraine, a FCO spokesperson claimed to be "regrettable," adding that Ukrainians will have "a proper opportunity to express their democratic choice in the forthcoming presidential elections" in Ukraine on May 25. Full story