Rebels: 89% vote in favor of Donetsk self-rule vote

|By:, SA News Editor

Pro-Moscow separatists have declared victory in a referendum on "self-rule" for the "People's Republic of Donetsk" in eastern Ukraine, saying that 89% of voters have approved the measure.

However, the Ukraine government, the U.S. and the EU have condemned the ballot as illegal, with Kiev saying it was full of irregularities.

What "self-rule" means isn't totally clear, with three options being autonomy within Ukraine, total independence or a merger with Russia.

The fear is that the poll will cause Ukraine to slide into civil war, especially if Russia recognizes the result and Donetsk disrupts a Presidential election that's due to take place on May 25.

Meanwhile, Gazprom (GZPFY) continues to ramp up the economic-energy pressure on Ukraine, saying the gas bill to the state-owned Russian company has soared to $22B compared with under $2B in March. Gazprom has threatened to cut supplies to Ukraine if it doesn't pay up.

Russia's Micex index is flat, while the USD-RUB is -0.1% at 35.187 rubles.

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