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Presidential election set to be derailed in half of election districts in eastern Ukraine

A Ukrainian official says at least half of the election districts in the east have been unable to prepare for Sunday's presidential election.

Volodymyr Hrinyak, chief of the public security department at the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, said Saturday in comments carried by the Interfax news agency that 17 out of 34 district election commissions in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are not operating because their offices have either been seized or blocked by armed men.

Pro-Russian insurgents have controlled parts of Ukraine for weeks. Following their declaration of independence earlier this month, they pledged to derail the vote which they regard as an election in "a neighboring country."

The insurgents remain defiant although Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is ready to work with the election winner.