Ukraine: EU condemns "illegal" elections in rebel-held east

2014-11-04 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The European Union has condemned as "illegal" elections held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine where mining electrician-turned-rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko was quick to announce victory. After preliminary results showed he had won Sunday's presidential poll with with more than 80 percent of the vote in the Donetsk, Zakharchenko did not rule out more negotiations with the central government in Kiev. "Our people have proved that we can not only make war but also fight for a happy life," he said. "We want to talk to everyone who is reasonable and want to listen to us, so that no more blood will be shed." His Donetsk Republic Party received more than 65 percent in parliamentary elections. Another rebel leader, former Soviet army officer Igor Plotnitsky, was expected to have become president of Luhansk. Russia said it would "respects the will of the people" in the polls. 


But the European Union condemned the vote as "illegal" and its new foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the polls were "a new obstacle on the path towards peace". Additionally, up to 90 military trucks allegedly with rocket launchers and other weapons were seen passing through rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine from Russia. The United Nations estimates that more than 3,700 people have already died in months of fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces. Questions have also been raised over reports that locals could potentially vote several time, while Russians not living in the rebel held regions were apparently able to participate as well. 


Yet the chairman of the Central Electoral Commission of Donetsk People’s Republic,  Roman Lyagin,  defended procedures. "Our voters live on the territory of the ‘Russian world’," he said. "The Russian world is where we are, they live almost all over the planet, we let them vote on-line and we try to give as many voters as we can the chance to vote,” Lyagin added. Despite the tensions with Kiev over the ballot there was some hope: Some 25 fighters on each side were released under a ceasefire deal over the weekend. 

(from Vatican Radio)