They are held under martial law and with candidates and voters coerced to participate in them. The Ukrainian Government considers participating in them high treason.
In autumn 2022, Moscow established martial law in four illegally occupied Ukrainian regions, just days after their annexation.
Vladimir Putin signed the law that allows elections to be held under this regime and following certain conditions.
Vote from Russia
The leaders appointed by the Kremlin currently in charge of these territories have the right to introduce changes in the organization of these so-called elections. For example, voting at polling stations outside the region, in Russia.
“Elections in Putin’s Russia are a ritual procedure, comments Russian political scientist Dmitri Oreshkin. “They cannot be called elections as a mechanism for changing power for a long time. Its meaning is as follows: first of all, it is propaganda, when it is necessary to show the whole world that the situation is under control. The second is the ritual meaning. It is very important for a large part of Putin’s electorate to have an image that shows that everything is working. And the third is a test. A test of the effectiveness of regional heads. “This procedure has nothing to do with democracy.”
Candidates and voters by force
Independent Russian journalists have found out that around 70% of the candidates running in these Moscow-orchestrated elections are residents of the occupied areas.
As with the particular “referendum” that led to the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the subsequent ones for the incorporation of four other regions in 2022, the possibility of citizens being coerced to present themselves as candidates and also to deposit the ballot paper is considered very high.
The Ukrainian authorities interpret participating in them as an act of collaboration with the enemy and is considered high treason.
“The Geneva Convention, to which Russia is also formally a party, categorically prohibits the holding of elections by the aggressor in occupied territory,” explains Oleksiy Haran, professor of Comparative Politics at the Mogilla Institute. “These elections do not exist for us. Nor for the entire international community. It is a propaganda spectacle.”
Western countries did not recognize the results of the referendums for the incorporation of Lugansk, Donetsk, Jershon and Zaporiyia and has condemned Moscow’s actions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky subsequently signed a decree declaring Russian legislation related to his country’s regions void.
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