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May 11, 2014 AT 5:28 AM
Residents in eastern Ukraine formed long lines at polling stations Sunday to cast their votes in hastily organized independence referendums, defying the central government which called the ballots illegal and funded by neighboring Russia. The votes seek approval for declaring so-called sovereign people's republics in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where pro-Russian insurgents have seized government buildings and clashed with police and Ukrainian troops over the past month. Ukraine's interim president warned that independence for eastern regions would destroy the country's economy. "This is a step into the abyss for the regions," Oleksandr Turchynov said in comments posted on the presidential website Saturday.