Kyiv can stop “Russian elections” in the diplomatic missions

Author : Serhiy Sydorenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine might just physically block the entrance to the polling stations at the official and unofficial levels
18:30, 14 September 2016

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Russia elections

September 18, Russia to hold parliamentary elections. First time, the annexed Crimea to take part in the elections to the State Duma. Ukraine declared its protest against these elections.

Related: Hug: OSCE SMM will not be monitoring elections in Donbas

Saturday morning, the presidential administration noted that Ukraine considers inappropriate "conduction of elections on the territory of Ukraine." Minister of Foreign Affairs Klimkin said Russian elections are illegitimate, so our country not let voting in embassies and consulates of Russia on the Ukrainian territory.

What will Kyiv actually do?

Since 2016, parliamentary elections in Russia are held under a mixed system, which is similar to Ukrainian, but not identical. There are 450 seats in the State Duma. Crimea might have 4-8 MPs in the Russian parliament: 4 majoritarians and 4 from party lists of winning parties.

Related: Poroshenko urges G7 to not recognize legitimacy of State Duma elections in occupied Crimea

"The only federal district" in which the elections are held, includes Crimea and Sevastopol. This means that Kyiv finds elections to be fake in general. MFA claims that by taking the following members of the Duma, the world takes a step to recognize the annexation of Crimea.

And this is the basis of Kyiv’s claims. And it seems that Kyiv is ready to go through. Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that Ukraine would acknowledge the authority of the State Duma "only after the abolition of the annexation of Crimea."

What will happen on Sunday? First of all, we should not be optimistic unfoundedly.

Related: EU will not monitor elections to State Duma in occupied Crimea

Thus, Poroshenko "prohibited" to hold elections in the embassies. But it would be naive to think that Russia will listen to the ban. Actually, the countries do not have to ask permission to conduct the elections in its diplomatic institutions.

Therefore, elections in the embassy and Consulate General will take place. This is a fact that could not be changed. Polling are stations set up; CEC announced that it does not intend to abolish them.

The key question is whether anyone will come to polling stations, except diplomats and embassy staff?

Minister Pavlo Klimkin admitted that Kyiv is unable to stop elections among diplomats because the area of the missions is inviolable, and Ukraine cannot bring there its special forces and remove the ballots.

Related: Belarus elections: opposition in parliament

But there is a bigger need to prevent voting.

In fairness, there is a mechanism that would let avoid all elections in the embassy of the country-aggressor. It is called "severance of diplomatic relations." But this option should be done in 2014, shortly after the invasion of Russia to Ukraine; then Poroshenko did not dare to do so. Now the suspension of diplomatic relations would be an artificial step.


Related: Crimean Tatars will not vote at elections to State Duma, - Umerov

There is an idea to block the elections, just do not to let voters in the polling station.

The first variant is that the police, official representatives of Ukrainian authorities, can block the Russian Embassy. The second variant is that the civil society and activists would do it, and Ukraine would formally remain innocent. But the second scenario is the threat of Ukraine's image. There is no guarantees that Russian embassy would not repeat the fate of pro-Russian Inter TV channel.

Moreover, it would cause a "mirror response," attack of the Russian radicals against Ukrainian diplomats in Moscow or Rostov-on-Don.

Related: "Crimean authorities" causes people to attend elections under pretext of dismissals, - human rights activists

Speaking about the "official blocking," small units of security forces might bock the entrance to the embassies and consulates of Russia. Of course, they do not have the right to detain diplomats, but they can restrict entry to other Russians - those who do not have diplomatic passport. In this case, Ukraine will receive accusations of violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, one of the crucial documents of diplomatic law.

The elections would be held in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, and Odesa.

Kyiv has no doubts that this voting is illegal. Ukraine has informed diplomats (by special MFA note) and the citizens that could come to vote (through the media) about its negative position.

Related: OSCE not to send observers to elections in occupied Crimea

These reports are lacking one, but very important point: the responsibility. Not only responsibility of the Kremlin, but also of everyone who helps to "legitimize" annexation.

If a citizen of Russia is ready to vote for the State Duma deputies from Crimea, does he have the reasons to continue to live in Ukraine?

Thus, Security Service has a powerful tool to counter election: "recognition of a foreign citizen persona non grata" or "expulsion of a foreign citizen."  So Ukraine does not even need to block the embassy, violating the Vienna Convention. It might just check documents of those Russian citizens who make their own choice between annexation and accommodation in Ukraine.

Related: Russian aggression against Ukraine. Crime and punishment

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