Kiev has condemned elections in Russian-backed separatist controlled areas of eastern Ukraine as illegitimate and unlawful. Residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, which broke away from Ukraine in a bloody conflict with the pro-Western government in 2014, voted for new leaders of the regions on Sunday. Alexander Zakharcheno, the previous “prime minister” of the Donetsk People’s Republic, was assassinated in a bombing in the city August. Kremlin-annointed candidates are almost guaranteed to win the polls after potential rivals were prevented from running. “The current attempt by Russia to justify, organize and then legitimize a fake ‘voting’ process in the occupied Donbas represents a flagrant violation of norms and principles of international law and Ukrainian legislation and constitutes a blatant breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Ukrainian foreign ministry said.
The UK and other Western countries said the elections violate the 2015 Minsk peace agreement, which calls for “local elections” held under Ukrainian law and monitored by the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Moscow and the separatists claimed Sunday’s vote does not fit the definition of “local elections” described in the Minsk agreement and faulted Ukraine for failing to pass constitutional reforms on regional autonomy.