Separatist elections held in rebel regions of Ukraine

World Today

People in the rebel-held territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine voted on Sunday, in an election backed by Russia but roundly condemned by the international community. The United States and the European Union said they will not recognize the results of the controversial election.

CCTV America’s Kate Parkinson reports.

Separatist elections held in rebel regions of Ukraine

People in the rebel-held territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine voted on Sunday, in an election backed by Russia but roundly condemned by the international community. The United States and the European Union said they will not recognize the results of the controversial election. CCTV America's Kate Parkinson reports.

People lined up in the cold, under the first snowflakes of winter, to cast their votes in Donetsk on Sunday.

In the six months since pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine held a referendum and declared independence from Kiev, fighting has raged in Donetsk.

As its people vote to elect new leaders and parliaments for the two breakaway states, many are hoping for a brighter future. “I hope that the war will be over soon, and I hope that there will be peace. There will be no more war, and everyone will be able to live a normal life,” said one Donetsk resident.

However, peace is still a long way off. The rebel fighters standing in line to vote, alongside civilians, are a reminder that this is not an ordinary election, and this unrecognized state is at war.

Kiev calls the elections a “power grab,” and said it is launching a criminal investigation.

The rebels said the vote will legitimize their leadership. Oleg, a rebel commander, said, “People have accepted this power, people have defended it in heroic battles. Right now they are just putting on the final stamp of approval, making a mark on the ballot paper and saying this is really their own land. They will live only by their own rules, not by the rules of others.”

Election organizers describe the vote as a decisive development in the break from Ukrainian rule but critics warn that the two rebel statelets in eastern Ukraine are taking one step closer to becoming the latest post-Soviet frozen conflict.

Ukraine and its western allies said this vote is a step away from peace, not towards it. They said Russia’s decision to recognize the results of this election will further destabilize this war-torn country.


Russia recognizes Ukraine’s controversial rebel vote

Russia’s government has been criticized for recognizing the election by pro-Russia militants who have voted to set up a separatist leadership in two regions in eastern Ukraine. The leaders of the self-styled “people’s republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk are seeking to take the regions closer to Russia, defying Ukraine and western governments who maintain the election is illegal. CCTV America’s Tom Barton reports.

Russia recognizes Ukraine's controversial rebel vote

Russia's government has been criticized for recognizing the election by pro-Russia militants who have voted to set up a separatist leadership in two regions in eastern Ukraine. The leaders of the self-styled "people's republics" of Luhansk and Donetsk are seeking to take the regions closer to Russia, defying Ukraine and western governments who maintain the election is illegal. CCTV America's Tom Barton reports.

Russia’s government supports the militants in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russian state media and commentators have denounced Ukraine’s government and its western backers.

Russia’s military once again held combat drills close to the Ukrainian border. As it has multiple times in recent months, this was seen as a show of force by the west. Kiev, the EU, NATO, the U.S. and various other countries accuse Russia of supplying the militants with weapons and sending their own army to fight alongside them, which Russia denies.

Fighting between the pro-Russia militants and Ukrainian government troops continued despite a ceasefire, even as self-titled rebel ‘prime ministers’ went to vote. Russia has been critical of Ukraine’s own recent parliamentary election, saying the pro-western parliament elected is unrepresentative.

Russia’s government and the pro-Russia militants hope this election will confer more legitimacy on the two people’s republics.

For more on the separatist elections in Ukraine, CCTV America talked with Anton Fedyashin from American University. He’s the executive director of American University’s Initiative for Russian Culture.

Anton Fedyashin from American University talked about Ukraine's separatise elections

For more on the separatist elections in Ukraine, CCTV America talked with Anton Fedyashin from American University. He's the executive director of American University's Initiative for Russian Culture.