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Separatist-Held Ukrainian Regions To Hold 'Elections'

November 01, 2014

Authorities in separatist-held areas of Ukraine's Luhansk and Donetsk regions are due to hold self-declared elections on November 2 which Kyiv and Western powers say are illegitimate.

Four people are running for the post of head of the so-called Luhansk People's Republic, including current leader Igor Plotnitsky, and three 'social movements' are competing for seats in the so-called people's council.

Separately, three people, including the current leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko, are running for the top post of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, and two movements are competing for seats in the people's council.

Zakharchenko has called the upcoming election 'a crucial moment when our state will become legitimate.'

'There is no point in pretending otherwise, I will say honestly that everything that happened before -- the Supreme Council was just some people [taking over],' he told a meeting with students from Donetsk National Technical University on October 31.

'They were activists, fiery revolutionaries, but they were in fact self-appointed. It was this way. Am I right to say this? Now we have the election.'

Separatist authorities said on November 1 that 3 million ballots have been printed and that voting by Internet had already started.

The election is not regulated by Ukrainian law or overseen by the Ukrainian Central Election Commission.

International Opposition

It also will not be observed by international monitors from bodies such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The Ukrainian government, Western countries, and international organizations have vowed not to recognize the poll, which they say violates the September Minsk agreement between representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the OSCE, and the separatist regions.

Moscow, however, has said the process is in compliance with the Minsk agreement and has pledged in advance to accept its results.

In comments published on October 28, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would 'of course recognize the results' of the separatists' elections.

Moscow has made no formal recognition of the 'people's republics' the separatists have proclaimed in Donetsk and Luhansk and denies involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

That is despite what Kyiv and NATO say is clear evidence that Russia has sent in troops and weapons to help the separatists.

Ukraine's national security service, the SBU, issued a warning late October 31 of the risk of 'provocations' during the separatist vote.

'The process of voting itself and of taking part in these elections is dangerous,' the SBU official, Markiyan Lubkivsky, said. 'Serious provocations are being prepared that can then be blamed on the Ukrainian authorities.'

The election comes at a time when Ukraine's tenuous ceasefire is under constant strain.

Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council reported on November 1 that six government soldiers had been killed and another 10 wounded in fighting since October 31.

The latest UN figures show 4,035 people have been killed in about seven months of war -- more than 300 of them in the last 10 days.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/separatist-held- ukraine-regions-to-hold-elections/26669804.html

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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