Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine named a leader of a breakaway republic on Monday after weekend elections which was denounced by Kiev and the West and further deepened a standoff with Russia over the future of the former Soviet state.

Organizers of the vote said that Alexander Zakharchenko, a 38-year-old former mining electrician, had easily won election as head of the “Donetsk People’s Republic”, an entity proclaimed by armed rebels in the days after they seized key buildings in cities of Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east last April.

A rebel representative said Igor Plotnisky had won a majority in a similar election in Luhansk, a smaller self-proclaimed pro-Russian entity further east.

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