Donbass elections: Chance for peace in Ukraine

Published time: November 12, 2014 10:20

By Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011).

A woman casts a ballot during the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic leadership and local parliamentary elections at a polling station in the coastal settlement of Sedovo, south from Donetsk (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

A woman casts a ballot during the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic leadership and local parliamentary elections at a polling station in the coastal settlement of Sedovo, south from Donetsk (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

RT Op / Edge

Elections held in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions of Ukraine are very important in terms of legitimizing the authorities in the two regions and establishing the peace process in the country, with a high voter turnout.

These are the two regions whose populations had categorically refused to accept the coup in Kiev and its aftermath, and who rejected the divisive ideology that the triumphant Maidan leaders had tried to impose on the entire country. They showed their own perspective on the historical processes which had shaped modern Ukraine.

This means that negotiations between Kiev and Donbass, including within the Contact Group, will from now on bring together elected representatives of the respective populations. This will strengthen the chances for finding political solutions that would be, first, accepted by the people and, second, implemented in practice. Consequently, the elections are an important contribution to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

Russia respects the expression of the will of the people in southeastern Ukraine. The main task of the elected authorities is to address the extremely difficult economic and humanitarian situation in the region.

There are widespread accusations against Donbass to the effect that the elections run counter to the Minsk agreements and undermine the peace process. However, it is to be recalled that the Ukrainian authorities have not implemented many of their own Minsk commitments, including with respect to local elections.

They had failed to give effect to the special law adopted for that purpose: the law provided that its area of application was to be set by a special parliamentary decision that has never been adopted. They had set the date for local elections in Donbass for December 7, while the schedule agreed in Minsk provided for the timeframe between October 19 and November 3. In brief, they had made it impossible to hold elections within the framework of Ukrainian legislation, as was envisaged in Minsk.

To that, one may add the many other Ukrainian violations of Minsk commitments: the ceasefire is being violated, no amnesty has been granted, no progress is seen in devolution, no national dialogue is taking place, no economic program for Donbass has been adopted, and obstacles are created for humanitarian assistance to Donbass.

In these circumstances, it is utterly wrong to artificially pick one aspect of the interconnected Minsk agreements (the elections issue) and declare it the main criterion of the sustainability of the peace process.

If Kiev chooses to withdraw from talks under this pretext, it will bear full responsibility for derailing them. For Russia’s part, we are prepared to facilitate further dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk aimed at preservation of the single political, economic and humanitarian space of Ukraine.

 

Elected Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko: DPR Elections in Line With Minsk Agreements

PM of Donetsk People's Republic

The elected PM of Donetsk People’s Republic

Topic: Situation in the South-East of Ukraine

DONETSK, November 3 (RIA Novosti) – The elections held in the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk (DPR) do not contradict the Minsk agreements, DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko has announced.

“It was said there [in the Minsk protocol] that we have the right to hold our own elections. The date was not specified,” Zakharchenko said at a press conference Sunday, adding that the elections held in the republic “do not contradict the Minsk agreements”, which have been fully fulfilled by the DPR.

According to Zakharchenko, DPR is open for dialogue with Kiev and is waiting for “adequate action” on the part of the Ukrainian leadership.

The Minsk protocol, signed September 5 by the Contact group on the Ukrainian crisis envisages a ceasefire and suggests, among other things, that Ukraine should adopt a law on granting special status to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and ensuring early elections of the heads of the self-proclaimed republics.

Elections of regional leaders and legislative bodies in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics took place on Sunday.

Kiev and several western countries said they would not recognize the results of this vote and repeatedly called it illegitimate. Russia, on the contrary, has expressed its intention to recognize the elections and emphasized that not recognizing would run counter to the Minsk protocol and undermine efforts to reach peace settlement in the country.

An Austrian observer called on Europe to acknowledge the elections held in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, RIA NOVOSTI reported.

“I believe the result will reflect the public opinion of the people here in Donetsk. My appeal is that the European countries should accept the people’s will. Please accept their will and their opinion, and please be fair about this,” Ewald Stadtler said during a press conference in the republic’s capital of Donetsk.

On Sunday, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics held elections to choose their regional leaders and representatives of legislative bodies.

A total of 100 observers from a number of European countries and the United States arrived in the region to monitor the elections.

The authorities in the European Union and the United States 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 that the not recognizing of the elections would actually run counter to the Minsk protocol and disrupt the progress toward finding a sustainable political solution to the conflict.

The Times: Ukraine Rebels Keep Power in Elections in Breakaway Regions

DPR's Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko submitted documents to the Central Election Commission. DPR's Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko submitted documents to the Central Election Commission.

DPR’s elected Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko 

The Times – November 3, 2014

DONETSK, Ukraine — Rebel election committees announced on Monday that the leaders of two breakaway regions in Ukraine had won enough votes to stay in power, as expected, and Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it “respected” the voting.

The central election committee in Donetsk said that the separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the prime minister of the breakaway region called the Donetsk People’s Republic, had won the balloting there with about 78 percent of the vote. He will now have the title of head of the region. In the other breakaway region, Luhansk, election officials said Igor Plotnitsky had been elected as leader with about 63 percent of the vote.

The European Union and the United States had “implored” Russia to refrain from recognizing the vote, and the announcement in Moscow again widened a breach with Western governments over strategies for resolving the crisis in Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement carried by the government news agency Tass that said “the elections in Donetsk and Luhansk regions were held in an organized way in general and with high voter turnout.” The statement said the voting showed that “the elected representatives have received a mandate to solve political tasks and restore normal life in the regions.”

The outcome of the vote was never in much doubt. Rather than offering a range of plausible opposition candidates, the voting for members of Parliament and heads of state in Donetsk and Luhansk was significant in highlighting Ukraine’s loss of control over those territories, and Russia’s strengthening influence.

After voting, Mr. Zakharchenko said he had cast his vote for “peace,” the news agency RIA Novosti reported, because the election would force the central government in Kiev to “recognize us” and “give us our land back without a fight.” He added that he would “establish good diplomatic relations.”

In a statement on Sunday, Ukraine’s president, Petro O. Poroshenko, called the election a “farce” and again appealed to Russia to reject the results.

The elections cemented the status quo for Luhansk and Donetsk, which have been controlled in large part by pro-Russian separatists since the spring. Ukraine, along with the United States and the European Union, said the voting violated a cease-fire agreement signed in Minsk, the Belarussian capital, in September.

The cease-fire, which has been unraveling with daily shooting along the front lines, called for local elections to take place under Ukrainian law, and Kiev has scheduled city and village votes for Dec. 7. However, rebel leaders said they had no intention of allowing such elections to be held in Donetsk and Luhansk, and they scheduled their vote over the weekend instead.

 

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.