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Voting opened Sunday in referendums called by pro-Russian rebels to split from the rest of Ukraine, polls the US slammed as "illegal" as the West fears they could spark civil war in the former Soviet republic.
The vote, carried out as two "referendums" in provinces where the insurgents hold more than a dozen towns, marks a serious deepening of the political crisis in Ukraine, which has pushed East-West relations to lows not seen since the end of the Cold War.