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MILENIO (Mexico)

Latin America's longest serving leader, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, is also the region's most popular head of state – at least as far as Twitter is concerned.

The ailing president recently became the first of the 12 Latin American leaders with active Twitter accounts to pass the 3 million followers mark, Milenio reports. Chávez, who opened his Twitter account on April 1, 2010, currently has 3,026,018 followers. He, in turn, follows 21 Twitter users, including fellow Latin American leaders Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff.

According to wire reports, President Chávez rewarded his 3 millionth Twitter follower with a house. "I'm very thankful to President Hugo Chávez Frías for all of the things he's given me," said the new homeowner, Natalia Valdivieso.

Latin America's second most popular presidential "twitero" is Mexico's Felipe Calderón, who has roughly 1.7 million followers. Calderón may have only half as many followers as Chávez, but he far out-tweets the Venezuelan leader in terms of messages posted. To date, Calderón has sent out 2,377 tweets, roughly doubling Chávez's Tweeter production.

Third on the list of most Twitter followers is Rousseff (nearly 1.4 million), despite the fact that she posted her last message on Dec. 13, 2010, right before taking office. Presidents Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia), Sebastián Piñera (Chile), Ollanta Humala (Peru), Ricardo Martinelli (Panama), Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica), Otto Pérez Molina (Guatemala) and Fernando Lugo (Paraguay) also have Twitter accounts.

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Donetsk People's Republic holds referendum on joining Russia

Irene Caselli, Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Russia's proxies in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions announced that referendums on joining Russia had begun that Ukrainian and Western officials have denounced as shams.

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For four days, "voting" will be held at people's homes "for security reasons," Russian state-controlled news agency RIA Novosti wrote. On the last day of the "referendums," on September 27, locals will be asked to go to "polling stations."

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