May.11 - Residents in the eastern-Ukrainian city of Donetsk cast their ballots in independence referendum. Rough Cut (No Reporter Narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: Voters in the eastern-Ukrainian city of Donetsk cast their ballots on Sunday (May 11) in an ambiguous referendum on self-rule that has raised fears in Kiev and the West of civil war and dismemberment.
Pro-Russian separatist leaders of the self-proclaimed "People's Republic of Donetsk" pressed the referendum even as Ukrainian leader Oleksander Turchinov warned pro-Russian eastern regions they would be stepping into the abyss if they voted.
Ballots asking voters if they support state "self-rule", which some see in it endorsement of autonomy within Ukraine, some a move to independence, and others a nod to absorption by Russia in the wake of Crimea, which Moscow annexed in March.
Annexation is favoured by the more prominent rebels, but the ambiguity may reflect their fears a full break would not garner enough support.
The eastern uprising followed the toppling in February of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, whose pursuit of ties with Moscow stirred mass protests by pro-Western activists in Kiev.
Rebels seized government and police buildings in the east with very little resistance from security forces Kiev says had been undermined by years of neglect and corruption under successive leaders.
But in recent days, Ukrainian forces have been striking back with shows of force especially in Mariupol, an important industrial and shipping centre. The interior ministry said 20 rebels were killed in fighting on Friday, while hospitals put the number of dead at seven.
Russia denies Western and Ukrainian accusations it has fostered the rebellion. It portrays the Kiev government as hostage to violent anti-Russian nationalists, intent on rooting out the culture and language of the Russian-speaking east.
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