Pro-Russian “insurgents” in the Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk are claiming that 90% of voters backed sovereignty and separation from Ukraine (and eventual incorporation into Russia). (Why is that the supporters of such things always claim 90% of the vote went their way? Why not something more plausible, like 55%, even 62%?)
That 90% number is especially interesting here, given the demographics of those oblasts. 30% of the folks living in Luhansk, the oblast that forms the eastern tip of Ukraine, jutting into Russia, are native Ukrainian speakers, not Russian, which suggests they’re ethnic Ukrainian, not ethnic Russian (leaving aside the understanding that all of the citizens there are Ukrainian citizens, regardless of ethnicity). 24% of Donetsk, which sits on the southwestern boundary of Luhansk and fronts on the Sea of Azov (which opens into the Black Sea, and thence into the Mediterranean), are native Ukrainian speakers.
To get to that 90% number, then, two-thirds of those ethnic Ukrainians in Luhansk and three-fifths of them in Donetsk would have had to have favored leaving Ukraine, also. That’s not very plausible.
Alternatively, the ethnic Ukrainians would have had to have not voted at all in significant number—afraid to vote, apathetic (unlikely in that charged atmosphere), or…. Which makes the “elections” not at all representative of what the folks truly want.
Also, keep in mind that these two oblasts, in 1991, voted for independence from Russia by an 83%-13% margin.