Rudenko, the leader of the militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, has seen a far bloodier independence battle than Scotland did. For months, the Ukrainian government in Kiev has battled separatist forces like those led by Rudenko in the east of the country, and the United Nations recently announced that at least 3,000 had died in the conflict.
Interfax subsequently retracted the bulletin that carried Rudenko's comments, without giving any reason for doing so.
The rebels in Ukraine had also looked to the ballot box. Crimea, a peninsula at the south of Ukraine, held a referendum on joining Russia in March, which pro-Russian groups won despite considerable backlash from the West. The region has since become a de-facto part of Russia. In May, groups in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic declared independence after winning referendums on independence, though the results were not accepted by Kiev's government and were condemned by a number of world powers.
"First of all, we can see that Scotland has been allowed to hold an official referendum and we haven't," Rudenko's reported comments in Interfax had said. "However, if the British central authorities had seen more powerful public support for the independence of Scotland, they would definitely have refused to allow [the referendum]. This means double standards: The West approves such referendums when they meet its goals, but when they don't it doesn't even allow them to be officially held."
In the days before the referendum, Sergei Aksyonov, the new, pro-Russian leader of Crimea, announced his support. "If they choose their independent way forward that is absolutely fine. Crimea understands them and supports them morally," Aksyonov said during an interview on Russian state television, according to Reuters. "I am interested to see what Western politicians would do if a territory that used to be part of the United Kingdom decides to go ahead on its own," he added. "Crimeans were not allowed to, but the Scots are?"
The Russian state has also voiced concern over the Scottish vote. Having sent their own international observer to Scotland for the vote, the Kremlin announced that the vote did not meet "international standards." The counting was held in rooms that were too big, Igor Borisov explained, and it was too hard for the observers present to check what was going on. Borisov had previously told the Russian press that he found the absence of long lines at polling stations suspicious.
Note: This post has been updated to acknowledge that Interfax subsequently retracted Rudenko’s statements.