News / Europe

Ukraine Separatists Plan to Disrupt Presidential Poll

FILE - Self-styled governor of Luhansk region Valery Bolotov (C) delivers a speech during a rally to mark and celebrate the announcement of the results of the referendum on the status of Luhansk region in Luhansk, May 12, 2014.
FILE - Self-styled governor of Luhansk region Valery Bolotov (C) delivers a speech during a rally to mark and celebrate the announcement of the results of the referendum on the status of Luhansk region in Luhansk, May 12, 2014.
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are planning to disrupt the country’s presidential election scheduled for May 25, but Ukrainian officials maintain that the polls will be held.
 
For the separatists, it was easy. Just nine gunmen marched Wednesday into Donetsk’s main election commission office and declared they were seizing it. With the exception of Ukrainian military barracks, separatist fighters are able to grab most buildings they want in Donetsk province.
 
The police will not stop them; many apparently support the separatists. Others are waiting to see whether the separatists or the government in Kyiv will prevail in the tug of war for Donetsk and its neighbor, Luhansk. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military is stretched thin.
 
Luhansk separatist leader Valery Bolotov said on the eve of last weekend's secession referendum that people in east Ukraine do not want to participate in presidential elections.
 
The Kyiv government and Western powers have denounced the referendums on secession in Donetsk and Luhansk.
 
Separatist leaders have insisted they will stop election voting from taking place in the east of the country.

For Kyiv, the presidential election is crucial. It will be the first since pro-Western protesters ousted the Moscow-backed government of Donetsk native Viktor Yanukovych, and it represents a chance to stop the fracturing of the country.
 
Opinion polls indicate the interim government is unpopular across Ukraine.

In one survey, more than half of respondents across the east said they thought it was an illegitimate administration. The gunmen who marched into the election commission office ordered all workers to leave, saying the election was illegal.
 
Serhiy Taruta, the official regional governor, said Kyiv is not losing control of Donetsk oblast, a province with 4.3 million people - 10 percent of Ukraine’s population - and much of its heavy industry.
 
Taruta said most institutions, offices and factories across Donetsk are functioning normally and that plans to decentralize power will eventually help to weaken the separatist insurgency.
 
Ukrainian officials insist the election will proceed, except in the flashpoint town of Slovyansk, a hundred kilometers north of Donetsk. That town is totally controlled by the separatists. There are plans for its residents to vote in the neighboring and larger town of Kramatorsk.
 
But on Wednesday, separatists kidnapped the head of the local election commission there - the third election official from the town to be abducted this month.
 
Election security is likely to pose an increasing challenge to the government.

Foreign election advisers expressed alarm weeks ago, telling VOA that the government was not anticipating the problems and had not drawn up security plans for the polling stations or for local officials tasked with overseeing the voting.
 
The advisers spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak to media. They are anxious also about the security of storage facilities for the ballot papers.
 
Recent opinion surveys suggest 85 percent of Ukrainians will turn out to vote on May 25 in what the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine has described as "the most important election in the history of independent Ukraine.”
 
But if the election fails in the east of the country, it may only aggravate the crisis.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More