Pro-Moscow Rebels in Ukraine Claim Victory in Referendum Amid Widespread Signs of Fraud

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 11 2014 6:37 PM

Pro-Moscow Rebels in Ukraine Claim Huge Victory in Referendum Amid Widespread Signs of Fraud

Members of an election commission empty a ballot box at a polling station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk

Photo by GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images

What do you know? It was a landslide victory that was almost as surprising as Russian President Vladimir Putin winning an ice hockey game. Shortly after the referendums ended in two key regions Sunday, pro-Russian rebels said the people had clearly chosen self-rule in twin votes that took place in eastern Ukraine. Around 90 percent apparently voted for sovereignty in Donetsk, reports the Associated Press. Results were not immediately available from the vote in Luhansk, but it seems likely the results will be very similar. Without international monitors to watch over a a vote that both Kiev and Western countries decried as illegal and a farce it’s impossible to verify the claims of such a broad victory and high turnout. Yet throughout the day there were hints the vote, which was hastily put together, didn’t quite have security measures in place to prevent fraud.

The BBC reports that the voting was chaotic and there were no poll booths in place, or even a register of eligible voters. A polling official tells the BBC’s Will Vernon that people from other regions were allowed to vote and their information would be written down to ensure they don’t vote elsewhere. Asked how long cross-checking all the handwritten lists would take, the official replied: “one day.” For its part, CNN reports that its journalists saw several people vote twice at a single polling station, where the ballot boxes already had the Donetsk independence flag. At the same time, it’s hardly surprising the results would be so lopsided considering that most who oppose the pro-Russian separatists didn’t go to vote in the first place, points out the Washington Post.


Even if the referendums are practically meaningless, that doesn’t mean they won’t have a significant effect. The votes are likely to embolden the pro-Moscow separatist groups, notes the New York Times. For now though it seems even separatist leaders aren’t quite sure what happens next. One leader told Reuters the vote would formalize the split with Ukraine and lead the regions to form their own state bodies and military while another said the vote would not change the status of the regions but make it clear that those who live in East Ukraine don’t want to receive orders from Kiev.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.