Referendum results in Donetsk and Luhansk supposedly affirm separatists

Voters in eastern Ukraine took part in the hastily organized referendums, organized to grant legitimacy to the separatist militias that have taken over cities like Donetsk and Luhansk. The militias have been apparently fueled by hope for re-absorption into the Russian Federation, similar to Crimea. Roman Lyagin, election chief of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, reported that 75% of Donetsk’s residents (about 3 million) cast votes in Sunday’s referendum, claiming that the vast majority supporting self-sovereignty. Of course, with no international monitors present for the elections, it is unclear if this is true. A preliminary vote count was released only 2 hours after polls closed. The vote-counting system was apparently by hand with paper ballots. The Kiev government has already condemned the referendum as a sham.

While the election proceedings yesterday were apparently peaceful, Sunday was preceded by violent incidents on Friday such as the alleged massacre of citizens by the Ukrainian national guard in Mauripol, also located in Eastern Ukraine. Kiev’s Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, said 20 separatists were killed and four were captured during a battle to restore government control the police station. The aforementioned Roman Lyagin was asked by by Putin through televised address to delay the referendum in an effort to defuse the growing conflagration in eastern Ukraine, but all separatist groups refused, saying this was only the first step and the next vote would determine whether sections of eastern Ukraine would return to Russia or not. Lyagin claimed that the referendums were the only way to keep the conflict from escalating into an all-out civil war.

Western leaders have blamed Moscow for encouraging the separatists, with Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande endorsing new sanctions if unrest threatens the tentative May 25 presidential election. Merkel and Hollande in a joint press conference called the referendums illegitimate. How these votes will affect the upcoming presidential election is uncertain.

Follow us on Twitter: @SteppeDispatch

News Briefs:

  • Kyrgyz security officials announced that they have detained another insurgent suspected of fighting with insurgents in Syria’s ongoing civil war. It is alleged that still-unnamed militant was trained and “engaged in the hostilities” while fighting alongside al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra across war-torn regions of Syria. According to Kyrgyz officials, the individual in question will be prosecuted under article 375 of the Kyrgyz criminal code, for mercenary activity.
  • Kazakhstan has announced that it will begin to make high-quality commodities available to the Iranian market by way of its Iran Mercantile Exchange (IME). The IME is considered the main gate by which foreign commodities exporters can gain access to Iran’s market, and has seen consistent growth since its inception in 2006. While details of the deal remain undisclosed, the 56,000 types of commodities that were traded in the IME last year alone make accession possible for nearly every substantive Kazakh exporter.
  • Afghanistan has increased its own dialogue with Iranian officials with the hope of putting an end to hangings of Afghan nationals carried about by Iranian security forces. Four Afghan nationals were hanged in Iran last month, and accusations of unfair legal practices and lack of legal representation have typified Afghan complains lodged with the Iranian Ministry of Justice. The two sides have agreed to discuss the matter and commute all current death sentences to life sentences going forward.
  • The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly has urged Azerbaijan to drop all charges pressed against three different human rights defenders in the aftermath of Azerbaijan’s 2013 presidential elections. The current charges could culminate in the incarceration of each of three individuals in question, and stem principally from allegations that the 2013 elections were unfair elections bereft of internationally-accepted voting methods. Officials in Baku have thus far failed to address the complaints made.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s