DONESTK, Ukraine, May 11 -- Local residents in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions went to the polls on Sunday in referendums on whether they want to remain part of Ukraine.
The two self-proclaimed republics decided to hold the simultaneous referendums though Kiev dismissed them as "illegal."
Polling started at 8:00 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and will last till 10:00 p.m. local time (1900 GMT).
In Donetsk, a total of 3 million ballots have been distributed among its eligible voters, who will cast their votes in the region's 1,527 polling stations.
The two regions have a population of 6.6 million, about 14 percent of Ukraine's total.
The referendums were held after Crimea joined Russia on March 18 following an independence referendum in the southern Ukraine peninsula that was not recognized by the West.