While Russia hailed the Nov. 2 elections held by Ukraine’s Kremlin-backed separatists as a legitimate expression of popular will, more evidence has piled up in recent days that the results of the elections had been rigged. Other reported problems with the elections: not being held in accordance with Ukrainian and international law, the absence of independent observers, the removal of all major competitors of the incumbent leaders from the race, the distribution of vegetables at polling stations and the lack of media freedom. On top of that, separatist guards wielding assault rifles at polling stations were seen by some commentators as intimidating. Others criticized the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic for artificially decreasing the number of polling stations to a minimum, causing long lines intended to demonstrate a high turnout on Russian television. The governments of the unrecognized republics were not available for comment.
Articles about voting issues in Ukraine.
Ukraine: Merkel, Juncker Say EU’s Russia Sanctions to Stay After Eastern Ukraine Elections | Wall Street Journal
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the new European Commission president said there was no prospect in sight of scaling back sanctions on Russia, maintaining a tough stance after Moscow embraced the results of a separatist election in eastern Ukraine. Ms. Merkel said in Berlin on Wednesday that the European Union should consider expanding its sanctions list to include the winners of Sunday’s local voting. The EU, Kiev and the U.S. have refused to recognize the elections and said that Russia’s refusal to condemn them are a breach of a September cease-fire. “We should also have another look at the list of specific individuals who now have responsibility in eastern Ukraine due to these illegitimate elections,” Ms. Merkel told reporters. “Otherwise I think we should maintain the sanctions we have.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman told reporters at a news conference in Berlin on Monday that Sunday’s elections in rebel-held eastern Ukraine were “illegitimate,” as they contravened the country’s constitution and the Minsk ceasefire signed in September. Steffen Seibert also said the manner in which the polls in the rebel-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and the nearby self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic were conducted were “extremely questionable.” ”It is all the more incomprehensible that there are official Russian voices that are respecting or even recognizing these so-called elections,” Seibert said. He added that under these circumstances there could be no thought of easing EU sanctions on Russia, and that if the situation in eastern Ukraine deteriorated further measures may be needed.
Alexander Zakharchenko, a 38-year-old mining electrician, won an illegitimate election in pro-Russian separatist controlled Ukraine this weekend. The election was held to determine a leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, however, the militant separatist group is not recognized as a legitimate power by the Ukrainian government. President Petro Poroshenko refers to them primarily as a terrorist group. In addition to being carried out by an unrecognized rebel organization, the election violated a September 5th ceasefire agreement that was signed by not only Ukraine and the separatists, but also by Russia. Though the separatists believe the election will allow them to break eastern Ukraine away from the west, and exert political control over the area, officials in Kiev will not recognize the election or Zakharchenko’s reign. The Ukrainian government referred to the vote as “rogue” and believes it was encouraged by Russian officials, who have long been accused of funding and controlling separatist actions in Ukraine. Poroshenko said the election was a “farce that is being conducted under the threat of tanks and guns.”
Residents of separatist-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine voted Sunday to elect legislators and executives in polls that have been staunchly denounced by the international community. Voting in the main rebel city of Donetsk proceeded in the presence of gunmen inside three polling stations visited by the AP. Alexander Zakharchenko, whose election as head of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic is a foregone conclusion, said Sunday that he hoped the vote would bring peace to a region where 4,000 people have been killed in fighting. Roman Lyagin, chief of the rebel election commission, said late on Sunday that Zakharchenko was leading the race with more than 70 percent of the vote after about half of the ballots were counted.
Pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine hold controversial leadership elections on Sunday which Kiev and the west have refused to recognise and which threaten to deepen the international crisis over the conflict. Fighting raged across the region on the eve of the vote, with seven Ukrainian fighters killed and intensive shelling at the ruins of Donetsk airport, a key battleground between the rebels and government forces. The elections in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic, which are based around the two main rebel-held cities, are designed to bring a degree of legitimacy to the makeshift military regimes that already control them. Both are choosing new presidents and parliaments, but there is little question that the current unelected rebel leaders – Aleksandr Zakharchenko in Donetsk and Igor Plotnitsky in Lugansk – will be confirmed in their posts.
TO ALL appearances, Ukraine’s parliamentary election on October 26th was a triumph. Reformists mostly won and voters rebuked the far right and far left. Western allies heaped praise on the pro-European, pro-democratic results. Yet Ukraine remains troubled and deeply divided. In an upset, the People’s Front party of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the prime minister, narrowly beat President Petro Poroshenko’s bloc by 22.2% to 21.8%. This means that Ukraine will keep two power centres, as Mr Yatsenyuk seems sure to stay in office. Mr Poroshenko had hoped to win a majority and install a loyalist instead. Now the People’s Front and the Poroshenko Bloc must form a coalition, probably with the third-placed Samopomich (self-help) party, led by the mayor of Lviv. The six parties that reached a 5% threshold will fill half of the 450-seat parliament (Rada) from their party lists. The rest will come from districts where deputies are elected directly and only later join party factions.
The sounds of artillery fire boomed from the northwest suburbs of Donetsk, but in the glittering foyer of what was once a downtown conference center, camouflage-clad militants toting Kalashnikovs sat in leather armchairs, paying no heed to the noise. They were keeping guard over those engaged in the important work upstairs: In the luxurious penthouse, trapped in stifling heat but cut off from the sound of shelling, Roman Lyagin worked to turn a fantasy republic into reality. Lyagin, as head of the Central Election Committee of this unrecognized nation, is writing the rules that will govern the first parliamentary elections of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, scheduled for Nov. 2. ”I and some like-minded people are making a new state,” he said. “We are building the state of our dreams.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone that elections planned for Sunday in eastern Ukraine were illegitimate and would not be recognised by European leaders, a Berlin government spokesman said on Friday. Ms Merkel and Mr Putin held a joint telephone conversation with French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ms Merkel’s spokesman Georg Streiter said at a government news conference. He said in the call there were diverging opinions on Sunday’s “so-called elections” in the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. ”Merkel and Hollande underlined that there can only be a ballot in line with Ukrainian law,” he said, adding that the vote would violate an agreement endorsed by Russia and further complicate efforts to end the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Sunday’s separatist poll is aimed at electing leaders and a parliament in a self-proclaimed autonomous republic.
Ukraine on Tuesday condemned as “destructive and provocative” Russia’s stance towards elections organized by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine next Sunday, saying Moscow’s recognition of the vote could wreck chances of bringing peace. The November 2 vote would be held in defiance of Ukrainian national elections last Sunday in which pro-Western parties, dedicated to holding the former Soviet republic together and negotiating a settlement to the conflict, triumphed. Russia announced Tuesday it will recognize the results of upcoming elections in Donetsk and Luhansk. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the voting would be important for the “legitimization of power” in the “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk, not recognized by Kyiv or the West. ”We expect the elections to be held as arranged and of course we will recognize their results,” Lavrov told Russia’s Izvestia paper and LifeNews TV in an interview published on his ministry’s website on Tuesday.