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Eastern Ukrainian Expats Flood 'Symbolic' Moscow Polling Station

Published: May 13, 2014 (Issue # 1809)



  • People voting in a referendum in Moscow on the status of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
    Photo: Vladimir Filonov / SPT

  • People at a polling station in Moscow raise a flag that reads, "Donetsk Republic."
    Photo: Vladimir Filonov / SPT

  • Members of an electoral commission at the polling station during the referendum.
    Photo: Vladimir Filonov / SPT

Central Moscow was engulfed in a sea of St. George's ribbons, Team-Russia apparel and Ukrainian passports Sunday morning as the self-proclaimed authorities of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions ran an improvised polling station for their referendums on independence.

Despite President Vladimir Putin's call last week to postpone the referendum on the independence of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukrainian separatists have gone ahead with the political exercise.

Scores of Ukrainian expatriates registered in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions turned out to the Moscow polling station. Some waited more than three hours to cast their ballots on the rooftop of a rusting auto repair shop near the bustling Kievsky Station.

The voters passed through metal detectors before climbing rickety stairs to reach the austere polling station. After presenting their Ukrainian passports and proof of registration, voters slipped their ballots into transparent, unguarded ballot boxes.

Still, the exuberance and optimism of voters outshone the modest premises and organizers' minimal budget.

"I feel like today is another holiday, like the May holidays are not over yet," said Lyudmila Lysina, a retired school teacher from the Donetsk region. "I have been in line for almost an hour now, but I will wait as long as it takes. And I will vote in favor of the independence of Donetsk, of course."

As Moscow voters lined up proudly under the flags of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, they did not yet realize that their ballots would not count toward the referendums' final outcome.

The official website of the Donetsk People's Republic announced earlier that a polling station would be set up in Moscow. But Donetsk Central Election Commission head Roman Lyagin said on Sunday that none of the polling stations established outside of the region had been coordinated with the self-proclaimed authorities.

"They are doing this on their own initiative," Lyagin said of voting taking place outside of the region, RIA Novosti reported.

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