8 C
London
Saturday, April 20, 2024

Ukraine. Presidential “elections” in Russia. Voting in the occupied territories under the barrel of a gun

Must read

- Advertisement -


In the occupied territories of Ukraine, residents voted for Vladimir Putin under the watchful eye of soldiers. The occupied territories were treated as “remote regions” of Russia, where “elections” started much earlier. Representatives of the occupation authorities went door to door and collected votes. They were accompanied by armed soldiers. Participating in such “elections” was a matter of survival, emphasizes Ukrainian human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinec.

In the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions Donbass an active “information campaign” began long before the presidential “elections”. The main messages were two: how important it is to come elections and how important it is to vote for current Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin announced his intention to run for office in December last year. Shortly thereafter, tents to collect signatures for his candidacy appeared in Donetsk and Luhansk. Posters in the colors of the Russian flag with Putin's image were hung on the windows of buildings, and agitational materials appeared in city transport, shopping centers and offices – reported the Ukrainian section of Radio Svoboda, adding that the use of war themes was crucial in the pre-election campaign.

“Remote regions of Russia”

- Advertisement -

The authorities in the Kremlin treated the occupied territories in… Ukraine as “remote regions” where “early voting” started much earlier. It also served propaganda purposes. Officials and budget employees told the cameras of Russian federal television channels how much “this is important to them.”

Billboards encouraging residents of the occupied part of the Luhansk Oblast in Donbas appeared several kilometers from the front line. “Vote for our president. Together we are strong,” read the inscriptions against the background of the colors of the Russian flag.

Putin was not on the billboard, but for the inhabitants of the occupied territories the message was clear: he is the only candidate in this year's election race.

Presidential elections in occupied Makeevka ALESSANDRO GUERRA/PAP/EPA

READ: Vladimir Putin and three “opponents”. Russians went to the polls

Under the barrel of guns

In the occupied territories, as in the “remote regions” of Russia, representatives of the occupying authorities went from door to door and collected votes. They were accompanied by armed soldiers.

“Dear voters, we care about your safety! You don't have to go anywhere to vote,” the Zaporizhzhia electoral commission appointed by the Russian authorities announced on social media.

“Russian soldiers are on duty at all polling stations. Residents of Mariupol vote under the barrel of guns,” informed councilors of occupied Mariupol, serving outside the city limits.

– Participating in such “elections” was a matter of survival – said the Ukrainian spokesman human rights Dmytro Lubinec.

It was possible to take part in the “vote” for Putin by presenting both Russian and Ukrainian documents.

Predictable ritual

Putin has long turned Russia's elections into a predictable ritual designed to validate his rule. In occupied territories, this practice serves additional purposes: presenting the occupation as a fait accompli and identifying opponents of the authorities, says the New York Times, citing the opinions of Russian analysts and Ukrainian officials.

Elections in these regions, they reinforce the belief that the same laws and procedures apply there as in the rest of Russia, says Ilya Grashchenkov, a Moscow-based political scientist.

READ: Ukrainians hacked the Russian elections

Presidential elections in occupied Makeevka ALESSANDRO GUERRA/PAP/EPA

Unknown number of voters

According to data from the fall of 2023, Russia controls 98 percent of the Luhansk Oblast in Ukraine, 73 percent of the Zaporizhia Oblast, 72 percent of the Kherson Oblast and 57 percent of the Donetsk Oblast.

However, little is known about the actual number of voters from the occupied territories. “The continuing shift of the front lines, the flight of local residents and the influx of hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers and workers have radically changed the demographics of the occupied regions. The full effect of this transformation remains largely unknown due to strict Russian censorship and ongoing fighting,” notes the New York Times .

The few available estimates indicate a sharp decline in the occupied population. Data from the Russian electoral commission show, among other things, that the occupied part of Kherson Oblast lost 13 percent of registered voters, or 75,000 people, in the last three months of last year.

Andrzej Zaucha: many people support Putin, but it is caused by great propagandaTVN24

Criticism of Western democracies

Western democracies have been criticizing the way the Russian “elections” have been conducted since Sunday. In addition to condemning repression and intimidation, they also emphasize that Ukraine's sovereignty has been violated.

“Holding elections in (temporarily occupied) Ukrainian territory – as Russia did in Crimea, Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhya – is a disgusting violation of the United Nations Charter and Ukraine's sovereignty. These oblasts will always be Ukrainian. Holding Russian presidential elections there does not change this fact. Great Britain still stands on the side of Ukraine. Russia must honor the commitments it has voluntarily signed and end aggression beyond its borders and repression within them,” said David Cameron, the head of the British Foreign Office.

“Russia's illegal organization of the so-called 'elections' on the territory of Ukraine is another violation of international law,” emphasized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris. France “will never recognize” their implementation and results and also reaffirms its commitment to “the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

“The illegal decision of the Kremlin authorities to organize elections in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories deserves particular condemnation. This is an ostentatious violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter, and cannot be treated as another attempt to undermine Ukrainian independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. “Poland does not and will never recognize the organization and results of 'elections' in these territories. Russia should be held responsible for organizing and holding them in Ukrainian territories,” it noted. Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

New York Times, BBC, suspilne.media, PAP, tvn24.pl

Main photo source: ALESSANDRO GUERRA/PAP/EPA



Source link

More articles

- Advertisement -

Latest article