Pro-Russian rebels have elected a separatist leadership in eastern Ukraine. President Petro Poroshenko called the vote ''a farce'' but could it have an impact? Sonia Legg reports
It's been called a farce and is widely considered illegitimate. But the election in eastern Ukraine can't be ignored entirely. Rebels say the vote helps their separatist cause. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) REBEL UNIT COMMANDER, OLEG, SAYING: "We had a normal election. The fighters' mood is energetic. They have voted for 'New Russia' and we are waiting for victory." The vote was a walkover for pro-separatist Alexander Zakharchenko. The former mining electrician secured around 80% of the votes. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) CANDIDATE FOR HEAD OF SELF-PROCLAIMED DONETSK PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC, ALEXANDER ZAKHARCHENKO, SAYING: "Our people have shown that they don't juts make war they also fight for a happy future. We are ready to talk to anyone who will listens to us, and listen to reason so that no blood is ever spilled on this land." Russia said it respects the will of the people, but stopped short of recognising the election. Berenberg Bank's Christian Schulz says it's a case of one step forward and one back. (SOUNDBITE) (English): CHRISTIAN SCHULZ, SENIOR ECONOMIST, BERENBERG BANK, SAYING: "The important thing for Europe here is that if the conflict in eastern Ukraine does not get any worse in the sense that we do not get another hot war on the ground then it could be one of the factors that would drive the stabilisation in confidence in particular in Germany and could thus be good. But it remains a very volatile situation." Under the ceasefire agreement signed by all sides the rebel region is allowed to elect its own local officials. But any vote has to be backed by the government in Kiev - and this one wasn't. Whether it will shake the current fragile ceasefire is now a big worry. Artillery fire was heard near Donetsk airport shortly after the polling stations closed.