Final preparations are under way in eastern Ukraine ahead of Sunday’s separatist elections. Rebel leaders claim the vote will give legitimacy to breakaway territories. Kiev has said the election is illegal and won’t recognize the results. CCTV’s Kate Parkinson reports from Donetsk.
The authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and in the other breakaway territory of Luhansk where elections will also be held have said the vote will give their leaders more legitimacy. In some ways, the campaigning strategies have been very similar to the style that Western politicians use as they canvass for votes.
Earlier on Saturday, members of the rebel leadership were seen planting trees in the center of Donetsk. It’s the kind of media tactic that is often seen in the West, although in Donetsk the would-be lawmakers are flanked by gunmen. It is a reminder that this is not an ordinary election and that this is an area of conflict.
“Even right now, you can hear heavy artillery,” said election candidate Denis Pushilin. “But, still, we need to hold these elections and these elections are legitimate for us, because it is the people who are taking part in them. So for us it’s the highest standard of legitimacy.”
With just one day to go before voting, election organizers showed the media around one of the polling stations. This vote, they said, will meet international standards.
Voters are also able to cast their vote by post or online. The commission reserves the right to change the location and closing time of polling stations for security reasons. There are concerns about just how transparent the electoral process will be.
Ukraine, the United State and the European Union have said they will not recognize the results of the controversial votes in the rebel held regions. Even so, Russia said it will recognize the polls and echoes the rebel claim that the election is a way of granting the separatists electoral legitimacy.
For more on the upcoming election in Eastern Ukraine, CCTV America spoke to Steven Fish. He’s a political science professor at University of California-Berkeley.