Voter Turnout in Luhansk Polls Tops 8% in First Two Hours: Election Commission
Just two hours into the presidential and parliamentary polls, voter turnout in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) in eastern Ukraine has exceeded 8 percent, Luhansk election commission chief Sergei Kozyakov told journalists Sunday.
"The turnout at the constituencies is very high. There are loads of people," Kozyakov said at a press briefing in the city of Luhansk.
The local election commission has estimated that 8.25 percent of eligible voters have cast their ballots in the region's capital Luhansk by 10 a.m. (7:00 GMT).
Other major cities in the region are voting as follows: Krasnodon - 11.5 percent, Lutuhyne - 0.31 percent, Branka - 13.8 percent, Krasnyi Luch - 7.81 percent, Rovenky - 12.3 percent, Stakhanov - 14.1 percent, Alchevsk - 12.7 percent, Sverdlovsk - 8.5 percent, Kirovsk - 11.3 percent, Antratsyt - 18.6 percent, and Perevalsk - 15.6 percent.
Thousands of people have fled the two "people's republics" since the start of the Kiev government's crackdown. Some of them have been internally displaced while others wandered across the border and asked for refugee status in Russia. Kozyakov said that the internally displaced had voted earlier and voting results had already been counted in the turnout statistics.
The election commission chief also said that all 102 polling stations have been opened in the Luhansk region, as well as in Russia's Belgorod, Voronezh and Rostov regions. International observers said earlier they had registered no electoral fraud at two voting stations in the Russian village of Krasny Desant, west of Rostov-on-Don. The Commission estimates the number of Luhansk refugees living in Russia at some 200,000.
Voters are going to the polls to elect the heads of local government and legislatures. Kiev and several western countries said they will not recognize the results of this "illegal" vote.