Presidential elections, opposed by separatists, held in Ukraine

Elections can not be held in Donetsk, located in eastern part of the country

Elections can not be held in Donetsk, located in eastern part of the country

DONETSK, Ukraine - Pro-Russian separatists in the eastern city of Donetsk threatened the Ukrainian government in Kiev, the country's capital, by declaring their independence Sunday.

The separatists protested the elections by gathering in Lenin Square in Donetsk and celebrating the unification of Donetsk and Lugansk regions under the name of "New Russia."

During the demonstration, one of the leaders of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic," Denis Pushilin, and the prime minister of the newly declared republic, Alexander Borodai, said that "New Russia" would continue to expand. 

Three hundred armed separatists arriving in the square in armored vehicles and trucks were greeted with cheers and given flowers, water and cigarettes. The armed group fired in the air.

However, throughout the country, people are going to the polls on Sunday. 

But in two Ukrainian regions, Donetsk and Lugansk, presidential elections could not be held since armed and masked pro-Russian separatists aiming to hinder the elections checked the schools one by one to find out if there was a ballot box there.

In downtown Donetsk no one could vote. Many Ukrainian citizens coming to schools to vote went home after seeing warning notifications attached to the doors.

Reports say that every school downtown was closed due to Pushilin's prohibitions against voting.

After the unification of Donetsk and Lugansk under the name of "New Russia," authorities in the region announced that the government in Kiev would not be recognized and that presidential elections would not be allowed in these two regions, as well.

The acting president of Ukraine and chairman of the Ukrainian parliament, Oleksandr Turchynov, said the Russian government had done everything it could to hinder the elections, especially in the eastern part of Ukraine. 

He emphasized that polls in two polling districts in Lugansk and seven in Donetsk were held under difficult conditions.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Russia's attempts to block the elections would fail. 

One candidate for the presidency, Yulia Tymoshenko, who voted in Dnipropetrovsk town, said Ukraine would apply to become a member of NATO if she won.

She said the people voted for freedom and democracy in Ukraine risked their lives and added that she had voted for a country that can become powerful in Europe and a possible full member of the European Union, as well.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency