By Elmira Ekberova
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AA) - Voting concluded Tuesday in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) on a referendum, with 99.23% choosing reunification with Russia, according to the final results approved by the DPR’s Central Election Commission, Russia’s state news agency Tass reported.
Shortly before the announcement of the final vote count, the UN's political chief said that Russian-backed referendums in Ukraine's occupied territories are "not a genuine expression of popular will" or "legal" under international law.
"Unilateral actions aimed to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the attempted acquisition by force by one State of another State’s territory, while claiming to represent the will of the people, cannot be regarded as legal under international law," Rosemary DiCarlo told the UN Security Council.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also slammed the referendums in a speech to a session of the UN Security Council which he joined via video link. He said Ukraine will continue to defend its people in annexation vote regions.
Some 98.42% of voters in Ukraine's separatist-controlled Luhansk region voted in favor of joining Russia, said the head of the election commission of the so-called Luhansk People's Republic (LPR).
Leonid Pasechnik, the leader of the self-proclaimed LPR, will turn to Russian President Vladimir Putin to ask him to consider folding the region into Russia.
Meanwhile, 87.05% of voters in Ukraine's Kherson region voted in favor of joining Russia, according to preliminary results announced by the region's so-called election committee.
Some 93.11% of voters in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region supported joining Russia, Russian state media reported, citing preliminary results.
The referendums have been widely condemned by the international community, with European nations and the US terming them a "sham" and saying they will not be recognized.
*Vakkas Dogantekin contributed to this story