Europe Will Have to Face Facts on Elections in Eastern Ukraine: Austrian Observer

Local residents participate in the elections of the Donetsk People's Republic's leadership on November 2, 2014.

Local residents participate in the elections of the Donetsk People’s Republic’s leadership on November 2, 2014.

© RIA Novosti. Alexei Kudenko

Topic: Situation in the South-East of Ukraine

 

MOSCOW, November 2 (RIA Novosti) – An Austrian observer said Europe will have to accept the facts in regard to elections held Sunday in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.

“It is the greatest mistake in history to ignore facts. After a time the European governments will have to face the facts, they will have to accept the facts,” Ewald Stadtler said in regard to Europe acknowledging the elections in Donetsk.

“After a cooling down period, they will have negotiations with the elected representatives of the Donetsk Republic because you can’t ignore a political party, well, maybe one month, but not for a year,” Stadtler added.

The European Union, as well as the United States and the United Nations, have condemned the elections, saying they would violate the conditions of the peace agreement reached on September 5 in Minsk, Belarus. Russia, however, said earlier it was going to recognize the election results since the move would help legitimize the leadership in the region.

Founder of the Indipendenza Veneta (Independent Veneto) movement Alessio Morosin also opined during his Saturday interview with RIA Novosti that not recognizing the elections in Donetsk and Luhansk would run counter to the same ceasefire agreement reached on September 5 between the independence supporters and the Kiev authorities.

Foreign Observers Surprised With Kiev’s Intention to Declare Them Pesona Non Grata

Members of an election commission in school No.1 of Donetsk.

Members of an election commission in school No.1 of Donetsk.

Topic: Situation in the South-East of Ukraine

DONETSK, November 2 (RIA Novosti) The foreign observers, monitoring the elections in the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics in eastern Ukraine expressed concern over Kiev’s intention to declare them persona non grata.

Earlier on Sunday, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced Kiev’s plans to declare international monitors at the elections in Donbas persona non grata on the territory of Ukraine.

“I feel sorry that I was blacklisted [by Kiev authorities], as I was previously observing the elections in Ukraine several times. I only monitor the election process. If I saw some violations, I would report. My duty is to protect the rights of the people,” Italian lawmaker Lucio Malan said Sunday.

The Member of European Parliament, Jean-Luc Shefhauzen, said that declaring the observers persona non grata by Kiev is contrary to the idea of peace and does not meet the concept of federalism, because federalism is an ability of citizens to determine their own future.

On Sunday, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics were electing their regional leaders and legislative bodies.

One hundred observers from a number of European countries and the United States have arrived in the region to monitor the elections.

The authorities in the European Union and the United States, however, said earlier the elections would come against the Minsk agreement on the regulation of the crisis in Donbas, and that the international community would not recognize them.

Meanwhile, Russia has expressed its intention to recognize the elections in the self-proclaimed people’s republics, saying not doing so would run counter to the Minsk protocol and disrupt the progress toward finding a sustainable political solution to the conflict.

People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk’s leadership to hold vote on Sunday

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DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – On a campaign trip, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic lit candles at a Russian Orthodox Church and kissed icons of Jesus and the Virgin Mary before dashing off to meet about 100 voters in a local factory.

There, the barrel-chested 38-year-old former mine electrician Alexander Zakharchenko assured voters that he wanted pensions to be “higher than in Poland”. The elderly should have enough money to “travel to Australia at least once a year, he said.

Promises of a better life with support from Russia are being invoked as the self-proclaimed People’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, which together call themselves Novorossiya or “New Russia”, hold elections on Sunday to give their leaders new legitimacy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made clear that despite Western sanctions over Moscow’s role in Ukraine he will not leave the industrial region behind.

Looking straight into the camera at a Russian Orthodox church in Moscow last month, Putin said he lit candles there for “those who suffered and who gave their lives defending the people in Novorossiya”.

A ceasefire broken by the Kiev regime without explanation has made the leadership to decide to hold vote on Sunday, after fighting that killed more than 3,700 people.  Some refugees have returned to Donetsk, a city that had a million people before the war.

The city has campaign billboards of Zakharchenko in the green military fatigues that have become his trademark. Other elections posters show white doves or pictures of children, with the exhortation: “Vote for life!”

DPR's Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko

DPR’s Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko

Although two other less-known candidates are running against Zakharchenko, there is little doubt of victory for Zakharchenko, one of the few rebel militia commanders who is from Donetsk rather than Russia. He took over from a Russian as the top pro-independence leader in August.

With the ceasefire broken by the Kiev regime, the Ukrainian army continued shelling Donetsk, killing three civilians and injuring nine others. At a campaign meeting in the town of Novoazovsk, Zakharchenko promised to build “a normal state, a good one, a just one. Our boys died for this, civilians are still being killed for this until now.”

LEGITIMATION

The new leaders in Donetsk are doing what other Russian-backed regions have done before in breaking away from a former Soviet republic, Novorussia backed by Russia wants to break away from the Kiev regime to establish their independence.  Like parts of Georgia and Moldova now entering their third decades as self-proclaimed statelets in frozen conflicts, Novorossiya leaders don’t want a “frozen conlict”.  Zakharchenko himself acknowledges as much.

“Ninety-nine percent, we will not be recognized right away. We will live as an unrecognized state for a while,” he told the meeting in Novoazovsk.

But part of the playbook is ensuring the rebel authorities assume the full trappings of state power, regardless of their eventual legal status.

Earlier this month the pro-independence leaders announced the creation of their own central bank and tax office, asking residents to register under their Donetsk People’s Republic and pay taxes into its coffers rather than Kiev’s.

Local entrepreneurs out of loyalty to the pro-independence authorities have agreed to register their business in Donetsk.

“I decided to register because it is needed in order to operate without once our legitimacy is established,” Yelena, the owner of a house renovation company that employs 10 people, said as she filled in new tax forms.

Some local businessmen fear Ukrainian troops will drive the pro-independence authorities out and they may be labeled collaborators and killed. A manager of one Donetsk-based chain of stores allegedly said he convinced the pro-independence authorities  that registration would stop supplies from central and western Ukraine and threaten his sales and his staff’s jobs. But Russia can and will help if that happens. They won’t have to depend on western or central Ukraine.

Those running the election describe the vote itself as part of the legitimation process. Both the pro-independence leaders and locals are tired of Kiev declaring a cease-fire to be broken once they start shelling the DPR and killing civilians.

“Our job is to legitimize the Donetsk People’s Republic,” said Roman Lyagin, the election commission chief who is running Sunday’s vote from an office in a glitzy tower in central Donetsk, surrounded by armed guards.

“When we lost our homeland, I mean the Soviet Union, I was 11 years old. Today we are correcting the mistakes of the past.”

The pro-independence leaders took a symbolic step closer to Moscow by cancelling the winter change of clocks on Oct. 26, putting them in Moscow’s time zone rather than on Kiev time.

Other symbols are in the works: the Culture Ministry is holding a song contest to select a new national anthem.

Free concerts are being held, including one this week by enormously popular Soviet-era crooner Joseph Kobzon, a Donetsk region native and now member of Russia’s parliament.