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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

Al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs