Efforts by Ukraine’s interim government to disrupt Sunday’s referendum in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk appeared to take center stage in the ongoing military operation against the region, though ultimately do not appear to have significantly hindered voting.
The strategy was most apparent in Krasnoariysk, where National Guard forces rolled into town, seized four public schools used as polling places, and opened fire on a crowd of voters at town hall, killing at least one.
In Mariupol, troops also managed to capture a van full of completed ballots, seizing some 10,000 ballots. With millions of eligible voters and a high turnout, this didn’t put the result in doubt.
Nor, indeed, will the results of the vote, which were roughly 89 percent in favor of the People’s Republic of Donetsk protest leaders, going to change the interim government’s policy of military crackdowns, as they insist the voting was “illegal,” as is the protesting against their rule.