Ukrainians are still scared, terrorized by the war; for that reason alone, the vote should not be considered valid. Just last week, the self-proclaimed leaders of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics used this excuse to discredit Ukraine’s internationally accepted parliamentary elections. And yet, these hypocritical separatists have just held their own election – right in the middle of a war zone, Kalashnikovs at the ready and with backing from Moscow. These were pseudo-elections, with the winners already fixed well in advance. Pro-Ukrainian parties and candidates were not allowed to take part in the so-called presidential and parliamentary elections. In Donetsk, even pro-Russian communists were barred from the electoral list, despite the city being one of its strongholds. In the Donetsk region, only two parties took part: Donetsk Republic and Free Donbass. Both groups have only one goal in mind: secession from Ukraine. And now they have secured, along with separatist groups in Luhansk, their uncompromising course.
People living in these two regions in eastern Ukraine had no real choice. There was no political competition; the separatists kept to themselves. With Russia’s support a few months back, these people grabbed power almost overnight. And now, with these controversial elections, they want to give the appearance of legitimacy to their actions. These elections, however, were a farce.
Hundreds of thousands of people were unable to vote, driven from their homes or fleeing the fighting. For this reason alone, the election results do not reflect the political situation in the region. In addition, there was no official electoral register, easily allowing some to cast multiple votes. Unverified online voting, already available in the days leading up to Sunday’s vote, offered another opportunity for fraud.