A decision by rebels in eastern Ukraine to hold elections poses a “great danger” to the peace process, President Petro Poroshenko has warned. He also announced sanctions on over 400 people and 90 legal entities held responsible for Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in the east. The leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic earlier confirmed the elections would be held on 18 October. The neighbouring Luhansk rebel region wants to stage elections on 1 November. The government in Kiev – backed by the EU and the US – says such votes would be in violation of the peace deal signed in Minsk, Belarus, in February.
Articles about voting issues in Ukraine.
The parties of Ukraine’s President Petro Poreshenko and Kiev’s mayor Vitaly Klitschko’s merged in August, and with local elections upcoming all eyes are on Ukraine as pro democracy parties seek to consolidate their seats against more pro-Russian sentiment. The recent actions by President Poroshenko to grant more autonomy to the separatist regions have angered the nationalists within Parliament, and the far right. Along with the parties merging, this has caused upheaval in Kiev and has raised the possibility of snap elections in which a slew of new candidates could be vying to take over for Poreshenko and Yatsenyuk’s embattled governments. There’s talk that Mikhail Saakashvilli, the current Odessa governor and former President of Georgia, will go for the position.Saakashvilli recently received 26,000 signatures on a petition to President Poreshenko demanding that Saakashvilli become Prime Minister. The petition supporting Saakashvili’s candidacy for the prime minister’s post was officially submitted on September 3. The same day, Ukraine’s Channel 5 television network, which is owned by Poroshenko, aired an interview with Saakashvili, who lambasted current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s reform agenda, Radio Free Europe reports.. While Saakashvilli has said that he will not run for the position, many believe that he is still entertaining at least some notion of running for election, particularly when his popularity has risen of late.
Ukraine: France and Germany Warn Vladimir Putin About Ukraine Separatist Elections | Wall Street Journal
The leaders of France and Germany told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday that rebel-run elections conducted in the separatist-controlled regions of Ukraine would endanger the so-called Minsk peace process for the country, a German government spokesman said. Ukraine is obliged to hold local elections by the end of this year in the east under the cease-fire deal agreed between Kiev, Moscow, Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in Minsk, Belarus, on Feb. 12. The country will hold local elections on Oct. 25 but has said it won’t run elections in rebel-held areas in the east because of continued violence there. The separatists have said they will hold their own ballots in mid October and early November.
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.
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.