posted at 20:50
Author Name: Nicolas Miletitch
Ukraine rebel vote threatens to deepen crisis
Fighting raged across the region on the eve of the vote, with seven Ukrainian fighters killed and intensive shelling at the ruins of Donetsk airport, a key battleground between the rebels and government forces. No international election monitors will be present for the vote, and no minimum turnout has been set by the organisers, reflecting the uncertainty over how many voters will bother turning out. "These elections are important because they will give legitimacy to our power and give us more distance from Kiev," said Roman Lyagin, election commission chief of the Donetsk People's Republic. Moscow's backing for the vote has sparked a new round of criticism from the West, which has said that punishing sanctions against the Russian economy will not be lifted until the Kremlin does more to help implement a repeatedly violated truce in Ukraine. The White House on Friday said: "We deplore the intent of separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine to hold illegitimate so-called local 'elections' on Sunday." Ukraine's national security service, the SBU, issued a warning late on Friday of the risk of "Provocations" during the separatist votes. "The process of voting itself and of taking part in these elections is dangerous," the SBU official, Markiyan Lubkivsky, said. Donetsk resident Vera, 45, who was selling eggs in a small market, said she would vote "Against the Fascists" - an insult against Ukraine's pro-Western government that has become widespread in the separatist region and in Russia's powerful state media machine.

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