Ukraine Votes Amid East’s Boycott

Ukraine Votes Amid East’s BoycottUkraine Votes Amid East’s Boycott

Ukraine voters go to the polls today in parliamentary elections called by President Petro Poroshenko in August, the AFP reported.

While Poroshenko may succeed in creating a pro-Western coalition in parliament, he is falling short of his other aim of bringing the separatist east under control.

Almost three million others live in separatist-controlled areas of Lugansk and Donetsk regions, where insurgent leaders are boycotting the polls and holding their own votes a week later.

Kiev has nevertheless vowed to organize polling stations in government-controlled areas of the east, with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk promising to ensure security on election day.

Poroshenko said Thursday he hoped to be able to form a Westward-leaning coalition to enact all needed reforms and rebuild Ukraine’s economy, despite the presence of separatists in the country’s coal and steel belt.

He added that such a coalition would start by modernizing the economy -- notoriously corrupt and burdened by a cumbersome tax system -- to meet the demands of international lenders behind a $27 billion rescue deal aimed at averting bankruptcy.

A Moscow-backed truce Kiev and the separatists signed on September 5 has calmed the worst fighting, but continues to be broken on a daily basis around the largest rebel-held city Donetsk.

A defense official in Kiev accused the fighters of planning another major raid on the city’s disputed airport this weekend.

  Avoidable Loss

More than 3,700 people have been killed in the conflict since April, according to UN figures, and at least 824,000 displaced—as a result of what Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin calls the postponed Ukraine EU association agreement.

Speaking to the ITAR-TASS news agency, Churkin also said that warnings from Russia almost a year ago were ignored.

He said at the very start of the conflict Russia had warned that all parties needed to be included in talks and the rights of all had to be respected, no matter which region they came from.

“What do we have today? Today Kiev and Brussels have returned to the position, which they needed to start with: suspend the association talks with the EU, which is exactly what the toppled President Viktor Yanokovich wanted,” said Russia’s Ambassador to the UN.

Churkin was also skeptical of political developments to try and improve the situation in Ukraine. He pointed out that decisions made at a meeting on April 17, between Russia, the US, Ukraine and the EU had not been implemented.

“Nothing has changed under the old or new Ukrainian elite. There has been no dialogue and there have been no constitutional reforms.”

  ‘Purge of Officials’

Speaking on Ukraine’s Sunday Parliamentary elections, Churkin said he believes that campaigning has been mired by cynicism and underhand tactics.

“The political field has been defending itself from opponents both literally and in reality. There has been a purge of officials (with links to Yanokovich) and a witch hunt,” he added.

Speaking at the UN Security Council, Churkin said that more must be done to make Kiev accountable for acts of abduction and murder by Ukraine’s military and private security forces.

He also wants an investigation to take place into the use of prohibited weapons such as cluster bombs and phosphorous bombs, as well as tactical missiles, which were allegedly fired indiscriminately into residential areas.

Churkin has also called for greater transparency into the state of the investigation into the downing of flight MH17 on July 17.

“It probably wasn’t an accident that the crash site took incoming fire from the Ukrainian positions, just as it was about to be visited by a group of Dutch experts and OSCE observers. We consider it irresponsible that one of the statements today reiterated an unsupported version of the events,” the Russian diplomat added.

He concluded by saying that he could not understand why some members of the UN Security Council had become nervous about Russian proposals to expand and deepen the investigation in to why the airliner crashed.