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25 Mar, 2014 16:15

Donetsk is British? Ukrainians vote in mock referendum to join UK

Donetsk is British? Ukrainians vote in mock referendum to join UK

Ukrainians in the eastern city of Donetsk have voted in an online spoof referendum to secede from Ukraine and join the UK. Residents wrote that their hometown was founded by a Briton, so the UK should seize this “decisive moment” and take them in.

"Donetsk is a British city! God Save the Queen," they wrote on social networks in an appeal to “reunite” their hometown with Britain, local media reported. The mock appeal follows the March 16 Crimean referendum that resulted in Crimea seceding Ukraine and joining Russia.

The link with Britain comes from the first ironworks in Donetsk, which were founded by a Welshman, John Hughes, at the end in the 19th century. The town was subsequently named Yuzovka, or Hughesovka.

"Glory to John Hughes and his town!”

"We are demanding a referendum on returning Yuzovka to its original bosom — Great Britain!" the appeal said.

It asked “fellow Britons" to seize this "decisive moment" while urging residents to vote on "where your children will live and what language they will speak."

According to local media, the online poll attracted about 7,000 people, while over 950,000 call Donetsk their home, according to a 2012 census.

As of Sunday, the poll showed that 61 percent of respondents favored joining Britain, while another 16 percent favored "broad regional autonomy" with English as an official language, Donbass.ua reported.

The online frenzy gripped Twitter as users suggested a new world order.

“Maybe we should really take the world and divide it again. Huh?” reads the tweet below.

Донецк (бывшая Юзовка), требует возвращение себя в лоно матушки — Великой Британии... Может и правда: взять мир и поделить. По-новой. А?..

— Сергей (@koschey) March 23, 2014

After President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in February, Donetsk has been gripped by protests against Kiev’s coup-imposed government. Thousands of demonstrators have been demanding to hold a referendum to decide on the future of the region, just like in Crimea, who refused to recognize the country's new authorities.

The referendum resulted in over 96 percent of voters backing the autonomous republic joining Russia. Russia last week welcomed Crimea’s integration.