Preliminary results show the acting leaders of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine winning weekend local elections that have been denounced by Ukrainian authorities and the West.
With about 97 of precincts counted Monday in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, acting leaders Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik were winning with more than 60 percent of the vote.
The voters on Sunday also cast ballots for members of local legislatures in the rebel provinces, where Russian-backed separatists have fought Ukrainian forces since 2014 in a war that has killed more than 10,000 people.
Although a 2015 accord on ending the war calls for local elections in Donetsk and Luhansk, critics including Ukraine’s president, the U.S. and the European Union say the vote is illegitimate because it was conducted where Ukraine has no control.
Source: The Associated Press