Holding elections in the occupied territories of Ukraine,Russia is implementing a « new order »
Starting from 2014, with the pseudo-referendum in the territory of Ukrainian Crimea, and continuing with new pseudo-referendums in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, Russia has finally lost its internationally recognized borders. The new pseudo-elections, held on September 8-10 this year with the aim of reviving the Russian Empire, demonstrate systematic gross violations of the norms and principles of international law, in particular the Geneva Conventions. By its actions, Russia is destroying the European security system formed after the Second World War, and is disregarding the reputation of international institutions, as this country is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and should be a model for other countries, not a scarecrow.
The « elections » in the temporarily occupied territories, advertised in the Russian media, have nothing to do with a democratic electoral process, simply because they were held at gunpoint and amid ongoing hostilities. In order to ensure « 100 percent voting, » the Russian occupation authorities preferred to « sacrifice » the civilian population of the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories. The purpose of the quasi-elections can be considered an attempt to legitimize the territories acquired as a result of aggression; to create the effect of Russia’s « presence » in the temporarily occupied territories; to ensure the loyalty of local « proxies »; to realize the business interests of the Russian « ruling party » – United Russia, which is introducing large-scale shadow « schemes », in particular, to export raw materials and products from parts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions of Ukraine, and from the so-called DPR/LPR. In addition, destructive precedents are being set for other regions of the world where separatist sentiment is high.
The elections clearly demonstrate the practice of terror used by the Russian authorities against the civilian population of Ukraine. Citizens of Ukraine in the temporarily occupied territories were forced to participate in elections under the laws of a foreign state. The occupation authorities in parts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions of Ukraine and « proxies » in the so-called DPR/LPR forced civilians in these territories to participate in the elections by threatening them with restrictions on basic services, such as education, healthcare, pensions, etc. The « passportization » of citizens in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine by the Russian occupation authorities became widespread on the eve of the elections. The « passport » restrictions apply even to children and adolescents, who, according to Ukrainian sources, are being deprived of the right to receive school and extracurricular education if they do not have a Russian passport.
The Russian occupation authorities are using psychological violence and intimidation to motivate people to vote. In the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, « members of election commissions » « traveled » through villages for almost a week, accompanied by armed Russian military. In some areas near the front line, the occupation authorities practiced mobile voting, which meant that members of the « election commission » appeared with a ballot box and accompanied by armed soldiers somewhere in the market or near a store. It is clear that under such conditions, one could only guess about the confidentiality and security of the vote.
With such an « organization » – and preparations for the « elections, » including propaganda, started in advance and large-scale falsifications – the « turnout » reached almost 70%. The result is completely false, given that the population massively avoided participating in the « elections » and therefore had to « add » percentages. In particular, in some settlements, there were more people who « voted » than lived there. The main actors in the elections were Russian « proxies » from among the collaborators who participated in election commissions (carrying ballots from house to house) and were elected to local « authorities ».
According to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, as of August 31, 2023, 1,313 people were registered as « candidates for the parliaments of the new regions ». According to the decision of the Russian Central Election Commission, the lists of candidates in the « new regions » were not published « for security reasons. » However, analysts and journalists managed to establish that former officials from the time of the infamous President Viktor Yanukovych are taking part in the « elections. »
According to the Security Service of Ukraine, more than 3,500 organizers and participants of the Russian Federation’s « elections » in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine have been identified. All the facts are being investigated within the framework of criminal proceedings initiated by investigators under two articles: « encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine » and « collaboration ».
It should also be noted that the resource of foreign observers and journalists, already tested in Crimea, was used to « legitimize » the results of the pseudo-elections. Unfortunately, this is not just about the performance of a Chinese opera singer. It is a shame to realize that in the second year of the aggressive war in Europe, there are still « friends of Putin » who are ready to travel to the DPR/LPR, meet with young people, participate in public events under the « new swastika » Z and act as « observers » at the elections, telling press conferences about the « unique opportunity » of democratic expression of will in elections held according to Russian « templates ».
For these people, this is just a way to make money, but in the big picture, they create a negative reputation for their nation. The actions of such « observers » and « journalists » should be appropriately assessed by both the political authorities of their countries and professional journalistic communities. A person’s democratic choice is based on the principle of freedom and respect for rights. The elections in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine demonstrated the Russian authorities’ disregard for fundamental human rights and freedoms and the democratic foundations of society.
Both after the pseudo-referendum in Crimea in 2014 and after the pseudo-referendums in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories, apart from not recognizing these events, the leading Western countries did not adopt effective restrictions against Russia. We would like to emphasize that Russia is setting dangerous precedents for other regions of the world where separatist tendencies are strong. Therefore, an adequate reaction of civilized countries to these pseudo-elections is needed, based on this stage of the war against Ukraine unleashed by Russia. The provision of a wider range of weapons is a concrete solution that will allow the Ukrainian Defense Forces to regain their internationally recognized territories. No official in any country in the world simply does not feel or understand how Ukrainians living under occupation dream of returning home. Democracy must be fought for, democracy must be supported and encouraged. Weapons are an investment in a freedom-loving and democratic Ukrainian nation and a sustainable security architecture in Europe.
- Mykola Volkivskyi
- President of First International Ukrainian Foundation of Development.
- Former advisor to the Chairman Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament