DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Pro-Russian insurgents say preliminary results in one of the twin referendums held Sunday in key industrial areas of eastern Ukraine show 90 percent of voters came out in favor of sovereignty.
The election chief of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic says around 75 percent of the Donetsk region's 3 million or so eligible voters cast ballots, and the vast majority backed self-rule.
With no international election monitors in place, it was all but impossible to verify the insurgents' claims.
A second referendum organized by pro-Russian separatists was held Sunday in eastern Ukraine's industrial Luhansk region, but no immediate results were released.
Ukraine's central government and the West had condemned the balloting as a sham and a violation of international law, and they have accused Moscow of orchestrating the unrest in a possible attempt to grab another piece of the country weeks after the annexation of Crimea.
The voting took a bloody turn in one town when Ukrainian national guardsmen opened fire on a crowd outside a town hall. An official with the region's insurgents says there were deaths, but it's not known how many.