The breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbass region of East Ukraine held elections today which the West says violate the Minks Agreements negotiated to end the conflict between Kyiv and the pro-Russian region.
The elections are for the heads of republics and members of unicameral parliaments, the People’s Councils, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
Five candidates will run for the office of the DPR head. They are Acting DPR leader Denis Pushilin, Former Deputy Education and Science Minister Vladimir Medvedev, renowned lawyer Elena Shishkina, MP from the Free Donbass faction Roman Khramenkov, and famous public figure Roman Yevstifeyev, who heads the museum of the Union of Afghan War Veterans.
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Four self-nominated candidates are running for the LPR head. The main candidate for the post of the LPR leader is Acting Head Leonid Pasechnik. The other candidates are Chairman of the Republican Committee of the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers Oleg Koval, Chair of the Perevalsk branch of the Lugansk Economic Union public movement Lyudmila Rusnak and Head of the Republican Trade Union of Railroad Transport Workers Natalya Sergun, wrote TASS.
Kyiv and its international backers said the November 11 polls in the areas controlled by the separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions will further hamper efforts to end a conflict that has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014, reported RFERL.
The voting was held amid tightened security, with gun-toting, camouflage-clad soldiers deployed to ensure order. Posters around the separatist stronghold of Donetsk, the main city in the region of the same name, called on people to vote “with Russia in your heart,” reported AFP.
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EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini declared the polls “illegal and illegitimate and [the EU] will not recognize them.”
Mogherini also called on Russia “to make full use of its considerable influence over the separatists it backs” to ensure the speedy and complete implementation of the Minsk agreements “starting with a comprehensive cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy weaponry.”
U.S. special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker said, “These particular elections are a mockery, really, of the idea of genuine elections that need to be held…They are under conditions of occupation, whether it’s no freedom of expression, no freedom of movement, no freedom of campaigning, and generally therefore no freedom of choice for the people in electing candidates for legitimate local leadership positions.”
“Instead of implementing Minsk and moving towards #peace4Ukraine, Russia is subsidizing corrupt leaders of Donbas, training and equipping the illegal armed formations, institutionalizing the status quo through sham “elections,” and blocking diplomatic progress,” Volker tweeted.