Donbass elections

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
Discount chickens and eggs, credits for mobile phones, and salary rises. All just for turning up.

But there's a catch. Takers must cast ballots in unrecognized polls that Russia-backed separatists are holding in regions of eastern Ukraine under their control on November 11, thereby thumbing their noses at much of the world.

Despite many international calls for the voting to be canceled, separatist leaders who control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are not only ignoring those pleas but pulling out all the stops to get residents caught up in Europe's only active war zone to vote and lend the process some semblance of legitimacy.

Along with the cut-rate prices on foodstuffs available at the polling stations in the region, broadly referred to as the Donbas, the vote's organizers planned to distribute vouchers worth 100 Russian rubles -- the de facto currency in separatist-held areas -- for mobile phones and to hold fairs and lotteries.

Controversy has already broken out on social media about how many vouchers will be given away, with some saying only early voters will get one.

A corny campaign video has also appeared on YouTube showing nattily dressed young people dancing as they march to the polling booths in an effort to inspire would-be voters.

And if none of those things are quite enough to entice people into the voting booths, separatist officials are apparently also offering a little bit of the "stick."

"It is known that chiefs of state bodies, companies, and other entities [in the Donbas] received instructions to prepare lists of people who would vote for [acting head of the separatist group known as the Luhansk People's Republic, Leonid] Pasechnyk. And people who planned not to vote for him were threatened with being fired," Irina Nikulnikova, deputy director of the Eastern Human Rights Group, told RFE/RL.

She added that a possible challenger to Pasechnyk, Luhansk Distillery Director Leonid Derzhak, was not allowed to register as a candidate.

Separatists backed by Russia have been battling Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region since 2014 -- the same year Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula -- in fighting that has killed more than 10,300 people and forced hundreds of thousands more to flee their homes.

Opposition to the holding of the elections in the separatist regions -- which in addition to military hardware and forces have also received massive financial and political support from Moscow, although Russian officials deny any participation -- has been fierce.

"I expect that the fake elections that Russia decided to hold on November 11 will prompt the imposition of new sanctions and show that the West's patience is not unlimited," said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on November 7. "It is time now to talk not about easing the sanctions on Russia but about tightening them."

UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said the elections are "outside Ukraine's constitutional and legal framework would be incompatible with the Minsk agreements," a reference to the accords aimed at resolving the crisis that were signed in the Belarusian capital in 2015.

U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the UN Jonathan Cohen called them "sham elections staged by Russia" at a UN Security Council meeting on October 31 as eight European countries called on Russia to "bring its considerable influence to bear to stop the so-called 'elections' from taking place."
Donbas Separatists Using Cheap Eggs, Salary Hikes, Corny Videos To Get Out The Vote

(Bloomberg) -- As world leaders commemorate a century since the war that was supposed to end all wars, a conflict on Europe’s eastern periphery is getting more deeply entrenched.

The breakaway region of Donbas in eastern Ukraine will hold elections on Sunday, the same day as the World War I Armistice event in Paris. Separatists backed by Russia are seeking to legitimize—and normalize—their control of two self-declared republics, Donetsk and Luhansk, after four years of fighting. The U.S. has called the votes “phony.” Russia has called them a necessity.

Billboards in Donetsk are urging people to “vote for Donbas with a Russian heart.” Citizens are given promises of a more affordable life and decent pensions in “a peaceful republic.”

The election is “just another step in what Russia has been doing as a process in the Donbas,” said Otilia Dhand, an analyst at political-risk consultancy Teneo Intelligence in Brussels. “This is replacing the first order of revolutionaries and separatists” with a group of “political nominees they want to administer the territory.”

Ukraine marks the fault line between Russian power and western influence, particularly since millions took to the streets in two revolutions in 14 years. But in the new world order of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the conflict in the former Soviet state is an increasingly forgotten one, frozen in time with no peace in sight and with Russia tightening its grip.

The armed confrontation has left at least 10,000 people dead and derailed any vague hope of Ukraine’s accession to the European Union and NATO. Daily shelling still occurs. At least 39 civilians were killed and 166 wounded so far this year, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said last month. Russia rejects calls for a UN peacekeeping force on the border between the two countries.

While international sanctions against Russia remain in place, Ukraine hasn’t been a priority for Trump in his relationship with Putin. Both men will be in Paris this weekend, though it’s unclear if they will hold any talks before a fuller meeting at the Group of 20 summit at the end of this month. Whatever happens, Ukraine is unlikely to be high up the agenda and the country has turned into collateral damage in the shift in U.S. foreign policy.

The man expected to become head of state in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic is Denis Pushilin, the Kremlin-backed interim leader. In neighboring Luhansk, it’s Leonid Pasechnik, who was formerly in charge of the anti-smuggling department at Ukraine's security services and talks about integrating with Russia.

Pushilin replaced Aleksandr Zakharchenko after he was assassinated by a bomb at a cafe in August. Unlike Zakharchenko, the 37-year-old doesn’t wear army fatigues and doesn’t boast about his military abilities. Before becoming a politician, he worked for a successor of a Russian Ponzi scheme company MMM, which cost its clients millions of dollars in the early 1990s.

But Russia plays a big role in the daily existence of people living in the separatist areas because it provides pensions, salaries and fuel. The ruble replaced the Ukrainian hryvnia as the official currency in 2015.

“It’s ridiculous that a former MMM guy is being promoted as a president,” said Larysa Fedoruk, 65, a pensioner in Donetsk. “But I am afraid that I will lose my pension if I don’t vote.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hopes the “illegal elections” will trigger new sanctions against Russia. The U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations, Kurt Volker, said on Thursday more are coming.

The risk, though, is that the elections only follow a playbook familiar in other breakaway areas such as Transnistria, which was part of Moldova, and South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia. Indeed, it was Russia’s formal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 after a referendum that initially destroyed decades of improving post-Cold War relations.

Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states after the 2008 war with Georgia and signed defense agreements with them, which means Russian troops are based there. In Transnistria, they are there as “peacekeepers” and the breakaway republic isn’t recognized by Moscow. Russia insists it has no forces in eastern Ukraine.

The elections in Donbas are “extremely important,” according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The U.S., EU and Ukraine said they break the pact signed in Minsk, Belarus, in 2015 that was supposed to stop the fighting.

Volker said on Thursday the elections had no legitimacy and what the region really needs is a UN peacekeeping mission. There are 3.4 million civilians in urgent need of protection and access to food, water and shelter, he said.

“They are under conditions of occupation,” he said on a telephone call with reporters. “There is no freedom of expression, there is no freedom of movement, no freedom of campaigning and therefore genuinely no freedom of choice for the people in electing candidates for legitimate local leadership positions.”
Putin Tightens His Grip in Europe’s Neglected War Zone

Election billboard in Donetsk recently, some coal miner running for a seat in the legislature

Pushilin (left) with his predecessor Zakharchenko

One of his billboards

Five candidates all in all, in the Donetsk election

Pushilin though is the one Moscow wants, hell, they killed Zakharchenko to clear the way for him. So, I don't see anyone else "winning" this lol

Both of the rebel republics depend completely on Russia, Russia funds their militaries and police,, both of which wear, essentially, Russian uniforms lol

Russia funds the education system

Hell, those columns of white trucks carrying purported "humanitarian aid" to Donbass every week often also reportedly bring money, cash, rubles, to fill up the separatist Republican Bank ATMs from whence people get their pensions and such

That's why that old lady said: she may not like Moscow's preferred candidate, but Moscow is where her money comes from that she needs to live... It is what it is...

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
Separatist leaders in Russian-backed areas of eastern Ukraine on Monday looked set for an expected victory according to preliminary results in polls condemned as illegal by Kiev and Western countries.

Elections in the Donetsk and Lugansk "People's Republics", controlled by separatists since breaking away from Ukraine's pro-Western government in 2014, took place after the killing of the rebel Donetsk "president" in a bomb attack in August.

Security was tight with gun-toting, camouflage-clad guards deployed to ensure order.

"Today we have proved to the world that we can not only fight, not only win on the battlefield but also build a state based on real democratic principles," Denis Pushilin, the 37-year-old acting Donetsk leader who is expected to win, told a crowd during a concert at the main square.

In partial results that matched expectations, Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik, the acting Lugansk leader, were largely ahead with 57 percent and 70 percent respectively, with around a third of votes counted.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel branded the vote "illegal and illegitimate" following a meeting with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko on the sidelines of World War I commemorations also attended by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

"These so-called elections undermine the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine," the pair said in a joint statement.

Washington and Brussels had asked Russia not to allow the polls to go ahead, arguing they would further hamper efforts to end a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014.

"The people in eastern Ukraine will be better off within a unified Ukraine at peace rather than in a second-rate police state run by crooks and thugs, all subsidized by Russian taxpayers," tweeted Kurt Volker, the US special envoy to Ukraine.

Kiev urged the West to punish Russia for violating a 2015 peace agreement, while Poroshenko earlier called on east Ukrainians to snub the vote "at gunpoint".

"Russia is conducting fake elections in Donbass," Poroshenko said, referring to war-torn eastern Ukraine.
Much more: Ukraine separatists elect leaders in defiance of West

A child looks at a separatist soldier providing security at a polling station in Donetsk

A uniformed militiaman votes

Based on the uniform, and that patch on his arm, he belongs to the special unit made up of my former countrypeople (there are women among them too) from Abkhazia. Meaning, he ain't a local citizen. But, I guess, he's earned the privilege to vote, having spilled the blood of enemies of Donbass and all (and perhaps his own too...)

A man lets his child put in the ballot for him

A German observer (some far left member of a local legislature in Germany, apparently) dances with a local lady outside a polling station


Denis Pushilin votes in Donetsk

It's actually the first time we get to see his wife

Pushilin has long kept her out of public eye, even in his tenure as head of the separatist legislature in Donetsk. In conversations online, most DNRians can't even agree what their new First Lady's name actually is: some say - Irina, others think she is, in fact, called Elena lol

Pasechnik votes in Lugansk
His surname, FYI, translates as "beekeeper" lmao Hell of a name for a secret police thug... :D

Woman crosses a street in Lugansk in front of a billboard supporting Pasechnik

Olga Pozdnyakova, the separatist head of Elections Committee in Donetsk, announces the preliminary results

Turnout was quite healthy, based on the pics I am seeing, most polling stations were quite busy, majority were older folks, but by far not only

In part it is likely because, yes, as mentioned in more than one article in this thread, at many polling stations they were also selling cheap vegetables and other produce

and raffling prizes

to attract people :D

Celebratory concert in Donetsk afterwards

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