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.”
Articles about voting issues in Ukraine.
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.
Exit polls in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections suggested that Sunday’s vote would cement the country’s new political course, seven months after the revolution that toppled former president Viktor Yanukovych. Forces loyal to President Petro Poroshenko and the government more broadly looked set to dominate the parliament, but there were also votes for more radical parties and those made up of former activists from the Maidan revolution. A new party mainly made up of Yanukovych’s defunct Party of the Regions polled in single figures, according to exit surveys. The vote came with parts of eastern Ukraine remaining under the de facto control of pro-Russia separatists, and with an increasingly radical mood taking hold in much of the rest of the country, impatient for reforms from a new government led by Poroshenko, a billionaire chocolate magnate.
Pro-Western parties won an overwhelming majority in Ukraine’s Parliament, President Petro O. Poroshenko declared on Sunday, citing exit polls. With the country still on a war-footing with Russian separatists in the east, Mr. Poroshenko hailed Sunday’s vote as a resounding endorsement of his government’s efforts to break free of Kremlin influence and shift hard toward Europe. “I asked you to vote for a democratic, reformist, pro-Ukrainian and pro-European majority,” he said in a statement posted on his website after polls closed. “Thank you for having heard and supported this appeal.” Mr. Poroshenko said more than three-quarters of those who voted “powerfully and permanently supported Ukraine’s course toward Europe.” He called the result “a landslide vote of confidence from the people.”
As two of Ukraine’s best-known investigative journalists, Sergii Leshchenko and Mustafa Nayyem showed a boundless zeal for exposing corruption and hypocrisy at the highest levels of government. So it set heads spinning within the country’s political and media elite last month when they suddenly announced that they were not only jumping the fence to run for Parliament, but also joining the establishment as candidates of President O. Poroshenko’s coalition party. Or at least that’s how it seemed. In a sign of how hard it can be to kick old habits, Mr. Leshchenko and Mr. Nayyem have spent the final week of the campaign not working to promote themselves, but rather crusading to defeat a candidate from their own party — a former official in the Kiev city government, whose place on the ballot in this rural district 250 miles south of the capital, they say, was the result of corrupt back-room dealing approved by someone close to Mr. Poroshenko, if not by the president himself.
War may have ended the era when Ukrainians traded their votes for some cooking oil and flour. “I took the buckwheat but voted my heart,” reads an Internet meme of an elderly lady displaying a rude gesture on Twitter and Facebook from an Internet group called Our Guard. It’s urging voters not to exchange ballots for food before tomorrow’s general election. Parties have abandoned the pop concerts and pomp that accompanied past campaigns after more than 3,800 deaths in Ukraine’s battle against pro-Russian separatists and earlier protests in Kiev. President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other contenders have instead signed military heroes and anti-graft activists to their voter lists. They’re trying to counter the electorate’s increasing frustration with the conflict, an outlook for a 10 percent economic contraction this year and corruption that’s worse than Russia’s and tied with Nigeria’s, according to Transparency International’s corruption perception index.
Ukraine on Sunday will hold its first legislative elections since clashes erupted last April between government forces and pro-Russia separatists, who will boycott the vote in the eastern provinces they hold. Kiev has said the boycott in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk will not affect the legitimacy of the process. Before the conflict started, around 6.5 million people lived in the region, around 15 percent of the total population. An estimated one million people have fled the area and sought refuge in neighboring Russia or other Ukrainian regions because of the fighting. ”Here, there will be no elections,” said Andrei Purguin, deputy Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Donetsk and Lugansk are scheduled to choose their own parliaments and leaders in a separate election scheduled for November 2. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has stressed the importance of full transparency in the October 26 elections in areas controlled by Kiev in the two rebel regions.
Hackers attacked Ukraine’s election commission website on Saturday on the eve of parliamentary polls, officials said, but they denied Russian reports that the vote counting system itself had been put out of action. The www.cvk.gov.ua site, run by the commission in charge of organising Sunday’s election, briefly shut down. Ukrainian security officials blamed a denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, a method that can slow down or disable a network by flooding it with communications requests. ”There is a DDoS attack on the commission’s site,” the government information security service said on its Facebook page. The security service said the attack was “predictable” and that measures had been prepared in advance to ensure that the election site could not be completely taken down. ”If a site runs slowly, that doesn’t mean it has been destroyed by hackers,” the statement said. A report on Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti quoted a statement on the personal website of the Ukrainian prosecutor general saying that the electronic vote counting system was out of order and that Sunday’s ballots would have to be counted by hand. The commission spokesperson, Kostyantyn Khivrenko, called the RIA Novosti report a “fake”.
October in Kiev has brought a gorgeous Indian summer. The reprieve from autumn’s slow creep towards winter gives the city a feeling of hope as it prepares for parliamentary elections on 26 October. Ubiquitous political advertisements for the 29 parties running appear to indicate that change is coming. However, a deeper look at the socio-political environment in Kiev suggests that this picture of progress may be a façade. For most Ukrainians, the optimistic political advertisements (which were almost completely absent during the presidential election in May) contrast sharply with their own experiences. The war in Donbass and the worsening economic and social situation are likely to bring more people to parliament with no appetite for dialogue. Rather, many will want to fight — literally — for what they believe is right. Petro Poroshenko’s bloc “party of peace” is the darling of pre-election polls. Ukraine’s president has designed the bloc, which has been campaigning in the name of unity, to include civil activists, soldiers fighting in Donbass, oligarchs’ proxies, traditional regional power brokers and former Party of Regions lawmakers.
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has denounced elections which are due to be held in the east of Ukraine in November by rebels. Under a new law signed by the president earlier this week, parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have been given ‘special status’ with three-year self-rule and can hold elections on 7 December. The separatists have ignored this and set their own date a month earlier for 2 November. Poroshenko has just returned from Milan where he met with EU leaders and Russian president Vladimir Putin.