Ukraine’s self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Lughansk People’s Republic are holding elections on Sunday, following Ukraine’s parliamentary elections last week. The areas boycotted last week’s parliamentary election in Ukraine that was marked by a low voter turnout.
The head of the Defense Ministry of the Donetsk people’s Republic (DPR), Eduard Basurin, told reporters that the election is being held in a calm atmosphere, without shelling or clashes between DPR militia and the Ukrainian military or militia loyal to the central government in Kiev.
Candidates participating in the elections include the incumbent prime minister of the self-proclaimed DPR, Alexander Zakharchenko, the First Deputy Prime Minister of the parliament of Novorossia, a federation of the two Donbass regions Donetsk and Lughansk, Alexander Kofman, as well as the chief law officer of the Supreme Council of the self-proclaimed republic and special police (Berkut) veteran Yuri Sivokonenko, reports the Russian TASS News agency.
All of the candidates are running on a platform that aims at the soonest possible reconstruction of the devastated infrastructure of the war-torn eastern Ukrainian region as well as the reconstruction of destroyed housing, the addressing of severe social problems caused by the civil war and a peaceful settlement of the dispute between the Donbass region and the central government in Ukraine’s capital Kiev.
Following an armistice agreement between the belligerent parties in the Belarus capital Minsk on September 5, the parliament in Kiev adopted the so-called Donbass Law in October that grants the Donbass region a three-year-long period of limited self-rule.
The incumbent prime minister of the DPR, Alexander Zakharchenko, is running on a platform promising to take action with regard to the payment of salaries to teachers, stipends to students and the payment of pensions which have fallen behind due to the protracted civil war.
Zakharchenko also stressed that the cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, which are currently under the control of Ukrainian military forces, should be brought back under the control of the local Donbass authorities.
Yuri Sivokonenko insisted that the Donetsk People’s Republic should accede into the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Sivokonenko’s election demand has been fueled by a recent statement by Kiev’s PM Arseny Yatzenyuk who suggested that Ukraine cut the supply of gas to the Donbass region and remarks of the type that “Russians are sub-human”. The Tass news agency quotes Sivokonenko as saying, “We are strongly linked with Ukraine, but I call with all my soul and heart for integration [with Russia], including Donetsk People’s Republic’s entry in the Customs Union. … The economy can be restored only through economic co-operation with Belarus and Russia”
Alexander Kofman has been running on a platform that aims at the establishment of a state consisting of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lughansk People’s Republic under the name Novorossia (New Russia). Kofman also stressed the need to address the humanitarian situation in the region as one of the priorities.
The Tass news agency reports that Zakharchenko, who is on the top of the list of the “Movement Donetsk people’s Republic” and the top candidate of “Free Donbass”, Yevgeny Orlov, both are running for seats in the People’s Council, that is, the local parliament of the DPR.
The First Deputy PM of the DPR and chairman of the presidium of the Donetsk Republic movement Andrei Purgin, as well as the former chairman of the Donetsk Republican Supreme Council, Denis Pushilin, are reportedly the top contenders, along with Zakharchenko.
Purgin explained the election platform of the Donetsk Republic movement as based on the economy of the people of the Donbass region, as opposed to an economy that is based on subservience to the region’s oligarchs. Purgin noted that the Free Donbass movement intends to fight for the power of the people, for openness, transparency and social justice for all residents of the region regardless their ethnicity and for inter-ethnic peace in the country.