Tuesday 10 December 2019

Pro-Russian chief's wins Donetsk election by landslide

Pro-Russian rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko prepares to casts his ballot, he won the election with 79pc of the vote
Pro-Russian rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko prepares to casts his ballot, he won the election with 79pc of the vote

Roland Oliphant

The 'prime minister' of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic has won a landslide victory in the breakaway region's controversial election, separatist officials said yesterday.

The only real candidate in a vote designed to cement the legitimacy of the separatist movement, Alexander Zakharchenko took 765,340 votes - or roughly 79pc of all ballots, the Russian-backed officials said.

Two other candidates, Alexander Kofman and Yuri Sivokonenko, took roughly 10pc each.

"The central election commission deems Alexander Zakharchenko to be the elected head of the Donetsk People's Republic," said Roman Lyagin, an election official, in Donetsk.

Mr Zakharchenko, a former mining electrician, was named prime minister in August, after the separatist movement seized power by force earlier this year.

Sunday's presidential and parliamentary elections in the Donetsk and Luhansk "people's republics" have worsened a stand-off between Russia and the West over a conflict that has killed more than 4,000 people since April.

Marred

Mr Zakharchenko is due to be inaugurated today, although it is not yet clear exactly what his post will be called.

While the elections went ahead in an orderly manner, they were marred by the lack of an electoral roll and an absence of any competitive campaigning.

There were no non-separatist candidates, and neither Mr Kofman nor Mr Sivokonenko ran any kind of campaign before the vote. Only two newly established parties, called the Donetsk People's Republic and Free Donbass, were included on the parliamentary ballot. Others, including the local communist party, were barred from running. The European Union strongly condemned the vote as "illegal and illegitimate", saying it violated a ceasefire agreement signed in September and threatened to prolong conflict in the region.

Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief, described the elections as "a new obstacle on the path towards peace in Ukraine", adding: "These 'elections' were held contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Minsk Protocol, signed by the representatives of the trilateral Contact Group, and obstruct efforts to find a sustainable political solution to the crisis."

Russia endorsed the results of the elections, ignoring a plea from Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, who described the vote as "a farce conducted under the barrels of tanks and machine guns".

Russia's foreign ministry said: "We respect the will of the residents of South East [Ukraine]. The elected representatives have received a mandate to solve practical tasks to restore normal life in the regions." (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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