Posted: May 11, 2014 12:28 AM
Updated: May 11, 2014 12:28 AM
MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) Residents of two restive regions in eastern Ukraine engulfed by a pro-Russian insurgency are casting ballots in contentious and hastily organized independence referendums.
Sunday's ballots seek approval for declaring so-called sovereign people's republics in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where rebels have seized government buildings and clashed with police and Ukrainian troops.
Polling stations opened at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) and were due to close at 10 p.m. (1900 GMT). Referendum organizers have said they expect a high turnout.
Ukraine's authorities and the West have rejected the referendums as illegal. Ukraine's interim president has said that independence for eastern regions will destroy the country's economy.