Masked rebels in Ukraine's Donetsk as few polling stations open

Pro-Russian armed militiamen stand guard during a pro-Russian demonstration at Lenin square in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, on May 24, 2014Donetsk (Ukraine) (AFP) – Armed separatists in camouflage gear and balaclavas were patrolling eastern Ukraine’s main city of Donetsk as crowds of demonstrators defiantly rejected Sunday’s presidential poll. “Ukraine is now another country so I don’t see why we should take part in this election,” said one woman in Donetsk city centre who gave her name as Elisabeta. There were no reports of violence, although the militants waging an insurgency against the Kiev government had threatened to disrupt the vote in Donetsk and Lugansk, the main regions they control in the heart of Ukraine’s coal and steel industry. Even before the vote, election officials reported many cases of intimidation and attacks on polling stations in the east, where scores of people have been killed since Ukrainian forces launched an offensive to crush the insurgents in mid-April.

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