Ukraine: Right Sector threatens military force to stop elections in Mariupol

Right Sector in Mariupol: “Here to defend Ukraine, not elections”. Photo Jerome Sessini.

On October 25, Bloomberg Business reported:

Local elections in Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol, a key location on the line separating Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists, were abandoned on Sunday after a local commission rejected paper ballots as inaccurate.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko ordered an investigation into the snafu, and voters may get the chance to try again in November.

Voting in the southeastern Ukraine city was first delayed, and then scrapped for the day, because officials didn’t have the correct paper ballots, Yegor Steshenko, deputy chief of the local electoral commission, said in a telephone interview.

The problems emerged on a day millions of Ukrainians cast ballots in a series of contests to elect mayors and other local officials. In areas where the process ran smoothly, voting ended at 8 p.m. local time.

Mariupol, with more than 500,000 residents, is an important seaport in the Donetsk region that was partly seized by pro-Russian troops more than a year ago in a battle between government and Kremlin-backed separatists. The conflict killed more than 8,000 people, according to the recent United Nation estimates.

Local officials said they rejected the Mariupol ballots because they were made incorrectly by the local printing office, identified as Pryazovsky Robochy. One political party was listed twice, while another was left off the ballots entirely, said Natalia Kashchiy, a member of Mariupol electoral commission.

Mykola Tokarsky, the chief executive of the printing office, said only 22 spoiled ballot papers were printed. “That couldn’t influence the entire circulation,” Tokarsky told reporters.

The decision not to hand over ballot papers to polling stations was “absolutely groundless,” Central Electoral Commission Chief Mykhaylo Okhendovsky was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. It may still have been possible for ballots to be cast before the end of the day in Mariupol, even with “big delays,” Okhendovsky said. […]

The U.S. ambassador in Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, called on the authorities to ensure that Mariupol residents can “make their own democratic choice” at the ballot box. “Elections in cities like Mariupol are an opportunity for Ukraine to demonstrate to the people of Donbas that they are part of a united, democratic society,” he told reporters Sunday in Kiev, the national capital.

On October 26, Sputnik International reported:

KIEV (Sputnik) — Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko Bloc suggests holding local elections in the southeastern city of Mariupol on November 15, the head of the party’s parliamentary group Yuriy Lutsenko said Monday.

“Our fraction submitted a draft law set to move the election day to November 15. All other fraction took a timeout to legally assess this bill,” Lutsenko told reporters.

Ukraine held local elections on Sunday, though the vote could not take place in Mariupol, Donetsk region, as ballots were not delivered to parts of the city.

Today, the following statement was posted on Right Sector’s official site:

Dmitry Yarosh’s open letter to the President of Ukraine

Mr. President!

The development of the situation in the country needs your correct and decisive response to the challenges thrown by life and Putin.

The situation with the elections in Mariupol is one of the main challenges. There are two ways to proceed. The first is to do what America, Germany, and Putin require of you and to hold the elections on November 15 of this year. The Opposition Block and the PF [People’s Front, PM Yatsenyuk’s party] can win the vote on this matter in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, finally burying the pro-Ukrainian coalition.

There is a second way: to give the region a chance to recover. To call an election at a later time and try to undertake some reforms in the region. To use the situation in Mariupol as a road map, as a kind of experiment, an example of how to develop scenarios for the further socialization of the currently occupied territory of Donbass. To take the decision to study the situation in the city, without false and deceptive slogans or templates, looking truth in the eye.

And the truth follows. In Mariupol there never were, and there are not now, any real local political parties. […] In Mariupol are two newspapers. Two in the city of half a million. […] Both belong to the group of companies “Metinvest” [owned by oligarch Rinat Akhmetov]. There are three TV companies. Needless to explain who controls them. At the “Metinvest” enterprises work tens of thousands of people. Thousands more work for the businesses that serve them. The economic crisis hurts everyone. People expect layoffs, cuts and falling incomes. The town is in a depression and feels disappointed by the government.

This is confirmed by the data of exit polls held on election day near the voting precints: “the Opposition Bloc” scored 83.5%, with none of the other political parties getting more than 3%. […]

The patriots have more than enough options to prevent a defeat of Ukraine. BECAUSE ABOVE ALL ELSE IS UKRAINE, NOT AN ELECTION.

Don’t forget that around the city are a large number of focused volunteer units and battalions of the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry and National Guard who have come here to defend the homeland and Ukraine. They will not sit idly by, watching Kiev officials hand over the city to the DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic]. “DUK PS” [a Right Sector battalion], “Azov” and “Donbass” are there to defend Ukraine, not elections.

Mariupol for Putin right now is a piece of the puzzle without which he cannot form at least some version of the “New Russia” piercing a land route to Crimea. The way out is to postpone the elections to a later date (better in 2017), and meanwhile establish an authoritative civil-military administration to manage the province […]


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Categories: conflict zones, latest