Self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk Republics cannot decide on elections

Author : Mykyta Sinitsyn

Source : 112 Ukraine

The forgotten topic of "elections" in the self-proclaimed "people's republics", or some regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, became again topical
13:20, 23 August 2018

According to the "Constitution" of the "Luhansk People’s Republic" (LPR)  and "Donetsk People’s Republic" (DPR), the powers of their "heads" last for 4 years and therefore expire in November 2018. This is applicable only to Olexandr Zakharchenko (“DPR” leader) since his “colleague” Leonid Pasechnik from "LPR" came to power as a result of the usual military coup in November 2017.

As early as December 2017, the People's Council of the “DPR”  adopted a majority of votes in the Constitution, according to which the term of office of the head of the “DPR” and deputies is extended to five years, although they come into force only after the next election. Even then, many saw this as Zakharchenko's desire to stay in power and uncertainty about his victory in the future "elections."

The latter had all the prerequisites - the fall of the socio-economic development of the region, the living standards of people, unemployment, the arbitrariness of militants and so on. A visible manifestation of this was the removal of the so-called "the chairman of the political council" of "Public Movement" Donetsk Republic Denys Pushylin, head of the “DPR parliament.”

Related: Czech court determinately disbands 'honorary consulate of DNR'

Another, much more visible rival was the ex-battalion commander of the "East" battalion, Olexandr Khodakovsky, who took on the heavy burden of an official oppositionist.

In January 2018, the topic of the elections was voiced again: Zakharchenko said that the "elections of the head of the People's Democratic Republic" will be held in the fall of 2018 and he will take part in them.

On the same day, "ex-speaker of the DPR parliament" Andriy Purgin from Russia has criticized Zakharchenko's decision, claiming that elections to the local councils should be held.

After that, the news about the "DPR elections" became rare: then "the head of the ‘DPR parliament’ Denys Pusylin declares that they would decide about the elections to the ‘People's Council’ and the ‘head of Donetsk People's Republic’ and ensure their "legality", then Zakharchenko will declare a certain mythical increase in the number of candidates for the post of head of the "burgeoning DPR."

Everything has changed in August.

Related: FSB organized a meeting of DPR/LPR leaders and Ukrainian MP Savchenko

Bring Zakharchenko to power again – the society demands it

The breakthrough in the “DPR election campaign” took place on August 6, when practically the main "DPR media," the DAN website published a proposal of three activists of the "Donetsk Republic" public movement: Svitlana Drozhzhyna - rector of the Donetsk National University of Economics and Trade, Mykola Shtefan - Council of DPR Veterans, and Ruslan Morozov - Head of the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Donetsk National University.

These unknown people, who do not decide anything in the quasi-republic, suddenly got the honor to announce their position, which was to prolong the term of the powers of the head and deputies of the People's Council, because in some places the world practice is on the way of determining the five-year term of the head of state and powers of parliaments, and in Turkey, Italy and Ireland the president stays in power for 7 years.

A week later, DAN posted the opinion of Viktor Lytvynenko, a teacher at the Donetsk Industrial Technology School of Industrial Automation, who said that the situation in Donbas was unfavorable for holding the election of the "head of the Donetsk People's Republic" in the near future since the war is in progress.

Related: Vira Savchenko testifies against LPR leader Plotnitsky

Questions arise: who are all these people and how important is their opinion in the military dictatorship? Why were they allowed to say anything at all?

The answer is simple – it is beneficial to the "power of the republic," but the power cannot voice the same thing and therefore exposes certain "activists" and teachers, whose opinion does not matter and might be ignored if needed. On the other hand, in case of success, it is easy to show how the opinion of "the republican public".

But why is this done?

The answer is obvious - to avoid the "elections." Then a question arises - why and who wants to avoid them, and the answers are not so obvious as it may seem.

Who does not want the elections – Zakharchenko or Russia?

The question "who benefits from the cancellation of the elections" seems to easily find the answer. Current "head of the DPD" Olexandr Zakharchenko wants to remain in power, but not everything is as obvious as it may seem.

After the disappearance of Olexandr Khodakovskiy from the public sphere of the "DPR opposition" in May 2018, the silence of the remaining opposition members in the person of the same "people's governor" of Donetzshyna in 2014, Pavlo Gubarev, Zakharchenko simply does not have obvious competitors in future elections. So why should he initiate their cancellation?

Related: Russian troops – main culprits of 2014 Ilovaisk tragedy, - Ukraine’s deputy minister of occupied areas

A small number of polling stations and the delivery of voters will give a beautiful television picture of the "multiplicity of elections", and armed submachine gunners will "correctly" count the votes. Actually, this technology was being prepared for "elections of mayors" in 2015.

At the same time, victory in the "elections" formally adds Zakharchenko some "legitimacy", even if in the eyes of the propaganda media of the Russian Federation, the inhabitants of the "DPR" itself do not deceive - they know perfectly that Zakharchenko's power is held on bayonets and will end when the hands holding his hands turn the guns against him, as it happened a year earlier in Luhansk.

True, some idealistic supporters of the "DNR" believe that Zakharchenko's fear of losing the election is an attempt to abolish the election. However, it is hard to believe in this, given the story of the former head of the "DPR electoral commission" Roman Lyagin, who was first fired and then kidnapped and sent to prison, where he was tortured, for criticizing the "head of the republic." It seems that his successor is unlikely to have heard about this story and will decide to count the votes in a "wrong" way.

However, there is a view that Zakharchenko is afraid of elections, on which he can lose because of the Kremlin's decision to change the governor's region "democratically," and not through a military coup, as in Luhansk in November 2017.

Related: LPR militants deny participation in Malorossiya creation

However, the Kremlin might be just unwilling to hold the elections.

According to the Minsk agreements of 2014-2015, "Donetsk" or "Luhansk People's Republics" do not exist as states, there are only certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

In this regard, there might be no questions about any election of the head of the "LPR" or "DPR," as they are absolutely illegal, they directly contradict and violate the Minsk agreements. And then such a sudden and flagrant violation of Minsk by the "people's republics" should not be real.

In such a situation, the "DPR" election issue can be easily "removed", declaring them undesirable in the opinion of the "DPR public," whose opinion is of no interest to anyone, but it will come in handy as an "excuse."

As time has shown, Russian is not going to follow the "Crimean way" and annex Donbas – it is rather destined for the fate of either unrecognized quasi-formations, or return to Ukraine on the basis of autonomy.

In the second case, it is extremely critical that Ukraine recognizes elections in the territory of uncontrolled regions, which is possible only within the framework of the law "On the provisional order of local self-government in certain regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions." This document, which, by the way, should be extended by people's deputies in autumn, essentially determines the procedure for legitimizing autonomy within Ukraine, and most importantly - local elections under the Ukrainian laws.

Related: 5 versions of the mysterious deaths in unrecognized LPR republic

No disarmament - no elections

An insurmountable obstacle to these elections is paragraphs 9-10 of Minsk agreements and article 9 of the Law of Ukraine "On the provisional order of local self-government in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions."

According to the clauses of the Minsk agreements, all illegal armed formations on the territory of the unrecognized republics must be disbanded and disarmed, so of course, it includes all units of the so-called "armed forces of the Donbas People's Republic" or "People's Militia of Donetsk People's Republic."

The Minsk agreements and article 3 of the above-mentioned law guarantee amnesty to the members of the IAF. According to article 9 of the law of Ukraine, detachments of the people's militia are created on the territory of the uncontrolled Donbas, the backbone of which is likely to be the former fighters of illegal armed formations. However, this will happen only on the basis of the decision of the local councils of these regions, that is, after the elections, during which all "servicemen of the people's republics" are obliged to give up their arms under amnesty guarantees.

Related: Minsk talks: Ukraine wants Russia to invalidate "LPR/DPR" passports, militants to return Ukrainian business

As you know, the disarmament of illegal armed groups did not happen, and it is at least unreasonable to hold elections in a situation where their results would be easily rigged with the help of the weapons and intimidations.

On the other hand, the curators of the "people's republics" have faced a choice: to hold elections directly contradicting the Minsk agreements, or to abolish the vote, referring to the extremely "important" opinion of the "DPR" local citizens.

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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