DONETSK, Ukraine —
The crowd cheered enthusiastically, but Bolotov stopped short of declaring the region's desire to join Russia.
Bolotov made his announcement flanked by two rifle-wielding men in camouflage and in front of a pair of brothers in traditional garb who had just performed a lusty folk tune in praise of the Donbass region, of which Luhansk is part.
The insurgents said turnout Sunday topped 70 percent, but with no international election monitors around, the claim was impossible to confirm.
"The farce, which terrorists call the referendum, will have no legal consequences except the criminal responsibility for its organizers," Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a statement.
While controversial, the vote gave momentum to the separatists and bolstered Russia's argument that easterners want more autonomy and deserve more say in running Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's office voiced hope that the OSCE could help broker talks between Kiev and the two provinces. The cautious stance — which contrasted with Russia's quick annexation of Crimea after a separatist vote there — appeared to show Moscow favoring a negotiated solution.
"The practical implementation of the referendum results should proceed in a civilized way without any throwbacks to violence through a dialogue between representatives of Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk," the Kremlin said.
Switzerland's Burkhalter, whose country currently chairs the OSCE, met with Putin last week and spoke with him again by phone Monday about a road map for settling the crisis.
"We have seen in Moscow that there is openness for a dialogue," Burkhalter said. He said Ukraine has accepted a proposal to nominate Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger of Germany as the OSCE co-moderator for the talks.
Burkhalter outlined some of that plan Monday in Brussels, where the European Union's foreign ministers added 13 people and two firms to their visa ban and asset freeze list over Ukraine, according to two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the measure had yet to be officially announced.