16 May 2014
Independent Russian experts do not regard the so-called ‘referendum’ in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine as legitimate nor its results credible. Announcing this at a press conference in Moscow were Ilya Ponomaryov, the deputy of the State Duma; Lev Ponomaryov, theleader of the movement ‘For Human Rights’; and Andriy Buzin, the head of the Interregional Association of Voters and co-chair of the ‘Holos’ movement.
The BBC’s Russian Service announced that all of them were present in Donbas during the ‘referendum’. Budzin said that there were so many violations in connection with the organization and implementation of the ‘referendum’, that “one cannot even talk about turnout.”
According to this expert, the decision of the survey organizers to consider the results of the ‘referendum’ valid regardless of the turnout, contradicts all worldwide practices. He indicated that in Russia, for example, the results of referenda are only considered valid when the voter turnout is 50 % or higher.
Ilya Ponomaryov called the turnout in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblast referenda ‘large’, but he emphasized that “it doesn’t come close” to the 70 % claimed by the organizers. By his own estimatе, according to surveys in both oblasts the turnout was close to 40 %.
Along with this, the Russian lawmaker said that the queues in the voting districts that were documented by the TV cameras were created artificially, inasmuch as there were too few polling stations.
According to Buzin, it is simply impossible to formulate any kind of objective opinion about the turnout in the separatist ‘referenda’ in both oblasts.
Ilya Ponomaryov agreed with Buzin, adding that “It’s impossible to check it accurately, and no one will ever find out what kind of turnout there was. I am sure that the official Electoral Commission doesn’t know it either, since they were not able to collect the data from all voting places.”
Still, the deputy of the State Duma believes that it is necessary to begin negotiations with the leaders of the separatists in order to resolve the crisis in Ukraine in the most peaceful way possible.
Ilya Ponomaryov, citing an anonymous Ukrainian official, said that the current leadership in Kyiv is repeating all the mistakes of Victor Yanukovych, first and foremost, by not including dissatisfied elements of society into the legal political process. As a result, according to Ponomaryov, although it is impossible to determine the exact turnout in the so-called ‘referendum’ in the eastern regions, nevertheless it was high. If a dialogue is not promptly established, the deputy of the State Duma believes that Ukraine can expect a ‘Syrian scenario’ – a civil war into which, because of the transparent borders of Ukraine, more and more people from other countries will be drawn.
Lev Ponomaryov supported the idea of dialogue between the Ukrainian authorities and the separatists. According to him, the main role in this dialogue should be played by Vlаdіmіr Putin and the leaders of western countries.
Translated by Kalyna 14, edited by Alya Shandra