A pro-Russian separatist stands guard during the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic leadership and local parliamentary elections at a polling station in the southern coastal town of Novoazovsk November 2, 2014. (REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev)
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Residents of separatist-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine voted Sunday to elect legislators and executives in polls that have been staunchly denounced by the international community.Voting in the main rebel city of Donetsk proceeded in the presence of gunmen inside three polling stations visited by the AP.Alexander Zakharchenko, whose election as head of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic is a foregone conclusion, said Sunday that he hoped the vote would bring peace to a region where 4,000 people have been killed in fighting.The eve of the vote saw an intensification of hostilities around Donetsk, but there was little sign of unrest Sunday.It is unclear exactly how many people were able to vote as rebel officials say they have no access to central Ukrainian electoral rolls. Roman Lyagin, head of the rebel election commission, said Sunday that 350 polling stations were operating Sunday and that 1.4 million people were eligible to vote.Five minutes later, Alexander successfully cast his ballot.More than 200 people were seen lining up outside one polling station Sunday morning in the east of Donetsk.
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