The Ukrainian parliament on Friday voted to call local elections across the country in October, but not in the rebel-occupied east. The Kiev government has had no control over parts of eastern Ukraine since separatist rebels began fighting government forces in April 2014, a conflict that has since claimed more than 6,400 lives. An armistice signed in February by Ukraine, Russia and the Russia-backed rebels called for local elections in eastern rebel-held areas as one step toward a comprehensive cease-fire, which has not been achieved yet. The bill passed Friday by the Rada said regional elections for mayors and local lawmakers will not be held in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia, or in rebel-held eastern districts because of the security situation and because Ukrainian officials simply have no access to those areas.
Articles about voting issues in Ukraine.
Parliament on July 14 approved new local election rules via a bill that introduces elements of proportional representation in elections to municipal and regional councils, and two-round elections for mayors of large cities. Although not explicitly required by the International Monetary Fund and other Western donors, the legislation is nonetheless a key component of Kyiv’s plan to decentralize government by delegating more power and functions to regional and local governments. However, the bill also specifies that the elections, which are scheduled for Oct. 25, won’t take place in the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, or in the Russian-annexed Ukrainian territory of Crimea.
Ukraine: Separatist Rebels Announce Elections In October, Draw Reaction From Kiev | International Business Times
Pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine will hold their own elections in October, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said Thursday. The announcement drew a rebuke from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who said any election that did not occur with oversight from Kiev could violate last February’s Minsk peace accord. Slated for October 18, the elections will occur “on the basis of Ukrainian law … in the parts where it does not contradict the constitution and law” established in separatist-held eastern Ukraine, said Alexander Zakharchenko, self-styled prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, according to Agence France-Presse. Zakharchenko did not provide further details on how the elections would occur or whether rebels would be in contact with the Ukrainian government in Kiev.
Russia proposed a UN Security Council draft resolution Thursday asking Kiev to “immediately start consultations” with pro-Russian separatists on elections within their eastern Ukraine strongholds. The Russian text cites a paragraph from a February peace accord, which “provides for discussion and agreement on questions related to local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.”
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.
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.