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Far right and left, conspiracy theorists among “foreign monitors” at Russia’s sham Donbas elections: Report

Foreign far right and left, conspiracy theorists, students, officials among 81 "observers" at Russia's sham Donbas elections: Report
Far right and left, conspiracy theorists among “foreign monitors” at Russia’s sham Donbas elections: Report
More than 36 countries condemned the 11 November sham “elections” in Russia-occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The OSCE was not going to send any election observation mission to monitor the staged polling process and condemned the plans to conduct voting. OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Enzo Moavero Milanesi said that the intention of holding the “elections” contravenes the Minsk agreements. OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President George Tsereteli dubbed the upcoming polling “unlawful and provocative.” No other international organization sent observers to monitor the “elections.”

Read also: Phony “elections” in Russia’s phony “republics” in Ukraine: a legitimization of the occupation

Since any election requires some outsiders to observe the process, Russia followed its well-worn path and gathered random pro-Russian foreigners to play the role of international monitors to later tell that the “elections” were held “without violations and with a high voter turnout.” In the same manner, back in 2014, the unqualified highly-biased “monitors” proclaimed the sham Crimean plebiscite and the same-type “elections” in the Donbas lawful and democratic.

The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) has published Anton Shekhovtsov’s reportForeign Observation of the Illegitimate ‘General Elections’ in the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic [so-called “DNR” and “LNR” – Zoria.] in November 2018.

The “central electoral commissions” of the pseudo republics didn’t publish the lists of the “monitors,” so the author collected data from the open sources to build up the lists of the “observers” at the sham Donbas elections and identified most of them.

Here is what the investigation has found.

Since the international community considered the “general elections” in unrecognized “DNR” and “LNR” illegitimate, no real international monitors were sent to observe the event.

Identified “observers”

According to the report, in order to fill the void of legitimacy, the “authorities” of the “republics” claimed, to have invited 48 and 45 international observers respectively from the following countries:

  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. Brazil
  4. Canada
  5. Chile
  6. Finland
  7. France
  8. Germany
  9. Greece
  10. Hungary
  11. Iraq
  12. Ireland
  13. Italy
  14. Kongo
  15. Netherlands
  16. Norway
  17. Poland
  18. Russia
  19. Serbia
  20. Syria
  21. Türkiye
  22. USA
  23. Yemen

Other “monitors” came from three proto-states of “Abkhazia,” “Palestine,” and “South Ossetia.”

Further legitimization efforts included a propaganda narrative connecting the fake monitoring mission and its reports to the OSCE. The Russian permanent envoy to OSCE, Alexander Lukashevich claimed at a special session of the OSCE Permanent Council that

“Observers from over 20 countries, including member countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), monitored the November 11 elections in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

Of course, the pro-Russian foreign citizens from OSCE member countries are not related to the OSCE at all.

The EPDE identified 38 “monitors” in “DNR” and 43 in “LNR.”

“Out of the identified individuals, around half of them were politicians and state officials. Other ‘observers’ were predominantly businessmen, students, journalists, and far-right and far-left activists and conspiracy theorists. None of the observers were transparent about the methodology they employed for observing the election processes and, therefore, did not comply with the ‘Code of Conduct for International Election Observers’ endorsed by all relevant international election observation organizations, including ODIHR/OSCE,” the report’s summary reads.

Table 1. Identified international “observers” at the “general elections” in the “DNR”

No. Country Name Affiliation/work
1. “Abkhazia” Oleg Nurievich Arshba Deputy Foreign Minister
2. “Abkhazia” Tamaz Yurievich Gogiya Chairman of the Central Election Committee
3. Austria Patrick Poppel Suvorov Institute
4. Belgium Kris Roman Euro-Rus association
5. Belgium Jan Penris Flemish Interest; member of the Chamber of Representatives of the Federal Parliament of Belgium
6. Chile Isaac Marquez *unknown
7. Finland Johan Backman *unknown
8. France Francois Mauld d’Aymee Donetsk Symphony Orchestra
9. France Nicolas Dhuicq The Republicans
10. France Thierry Mariani The Republicans
11. France Nikola Mirkovic Association “West-East”
12. France Xavier Moreau Sokol Holding
13. France Christelle Neant DONi International Press Center
14. France Julien Rochedy *unknown
15. France Alexis Tarrade The Republicans
16. France Quentin Vercruysse The Republicans
17. France Michel Voisin The Republicans
18. Germany Richard Gretzinger Alternative for Germany
19. Germany Artur Leier The Left
20. Germany Gunnar Norbert Lindemann Alternative for Germany; member of the Berlin state parliament
21. Germany Manuel Ochsenreiter Editor of Magazine Zuerst!
22. Greece Kostas Isihos Syryza; former Deputy Minister of National Defence
23. Italy Eliseo Bertolasi *unknown
24. Italy Giulietto Chiesa *unknown
25. Italy Alessandro Musolino Forward Italy
26. Italy Antonio Razzi Forward Italy
27. Italy Palmarino Zoccatelli League; vice president of the VenetoRussia Cultural Association
28. Netherlands Pascal Hillebrand *unknown
29. Russia Olga Fyodorovna Kovitidi Member of the Federation Council
30. Russia Andrey Dmitrievich Kozenko United Russia, Member of the State Duma
31. Russia Dmitriy Vadimovich Sablin United Russia, Member of the State Duma
32. Russia Kazbek Kutsukovich Taysayev Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Member of the State Duma
33. Russia Sergey Pavlovich Tsekov Member of the Federation Council
34. Russia Viktor Petrovich Vodolatskiy United Russia, Member of the State Duma
35. Russia Aleksandr Andreyevich Yushchenko Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Member of the State Duma
36. “South Ossetia” Igor Gedevanovich Chochiev Member of the parliament of South Ossetia
37. “South Ossetia” Ruslan Zaurovich Tadeyev Minister of State Property and Land Matters
38. Türkiye Okay Deprem Correspondent for the Evrensel newspaper

Table 2. Identified international “observers” at the “general elections” in the “LNR”

No. Country Country Affiliation/work
1. “Abkhazia” Almaskhan Zurabovich Ardzinba Member of the Parliament of Abkhazia
2. “Abkhazia” Georgiy Chichikoevich Dumava Assistant to Foreign Minister of Abkhazia
3. “Abkhazia” Astamur Omarovich Logua Member of the Parliament of Abkhazia
4. “Abkhazia” Astamur Rufetovich Pachaliya Bloc of Opposition Forces; member of Abkhazia’s Central Election Committee
5. “Abkhazia” Aleksandr Alekseyevich Romanenko *unknown
6. Belgium Frank Creyelman Flemish Interest
7. Belgium Christian Verougstraete Flemish Interest; former Member of the Flemish Parliament
8. Brazil Humberto Setembrino Correa Carvalho Communist Party of Brazil
9. Brazil Nubem Medeiros Communist Party of Brazil
10. Brazil Claudio Ribeiro *unknown
11. Canada John Bosnitch *unknown
12. Finland Jarmo Ekman Finland-Novorossiya Friendship Society
13. Finland Jon Krister Hellevig Hellevig, Klein & Usov Llc.
14. Finland Janus Putkonen Director of the DONi International Press Center
15. Germany Olaf Kießling Alternative for Germany; member of the Thuringian regional parliament
16. Germany Andreas Maurer The Left
17. Germany Tatjana Aleksandrovna Raab-Alifanova *unknown
18. Germany Marco Samm Mod’s Hair Freiburg
19. Greece Stathis Stavropoulos *unknown
20. Hungary Tamas Gergo Samu Jobbik
21. Iraq Mudihir Mohammed Avad Mudihir Student at the Tambov State University
22. Ireland Francis Hughes *unknown
23. Netherlands Ronald van Amerongen *unknown
24. Norway Bjorn Ditlef Nistad *unknown
25. “Palestine” Saleh Mosab Head of the “Sadyg” Arab Cultural Centre
26. Poland Tomasz Malodobry *unknown
27. Russia Aleksey Nikolayevich Didenko Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia; Member of the State Duma
28. Russia Sergey Aleksandrovich Shargunov Communist Party of the Russian Federation; Member of the State Duma
29. Russia Mikhail Viktorovich Shchapov Communist Party of the Russian Federation; Member of the State Duma
30. Russia Aleksandr Sergeyevich Starovoytov Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia; Member of the State Duma
31. Russia Olga Viktorovna Timofeyeva United Russia; deputy Chair of the State Duma
32. Russia Aleksey Aleksandrovich Zhuravlyov Motherland/United Russia; Member of the State Duma
33. Serbia Zoran Krstic *unknown
34. Serbia Ninoslav Milosevic *unknown
35. Serbia Miodrag Zarkovic *unknown
36. “South Ossetia” David Otarovich Gazzaev Assistant to President of South Ossetia
37. “South Ossetia” Igor Vakhtangovich Kozaev Presidential Administration of South Ossetia
38. “South Ossetia” Bakhva Otarovich Tedeyev *unknown
39. Syria Sa’ed Ibrahim Haneef Student at the Mordovian State University
40. USA George Eliason *unknown
41. Yemen Al Khasheb Rashid Abdulkudos Student at the Orel State University
42. *unknown Mohamed Ali Sanaa Omer Abdel Bagi Student at the Luhansk Taras Shevchenko National University
43. *unknown Ljubomir Radinovic Motherland party; chairman of the Society of Russian-Serbian-Montenegrin Friendship
At least three observers – Belgian extreme right Frank Creyelman, Russian nationalist MP Aleksey Didenko, center-right Italian politician Alessandro Musolino – played their role to legitimize the sham elections in the occupied Donbas for the second time. Earlier they have already been “observers” at the 2014 “elections.”

Read also: Fake monitors “observe” fake elections in Donbas (2014)

Background of the “observers”

Another important find is that most of non-Russian “international observers” were previously involved in various pro-Kremlin activities including:

  • previous participation in politically biased and/or illegitimate electoral monitoring missions in Russia and elsewhere;
  • legitimization and justification of Russia’s actions directed at undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity;
  • criticism of the sanctions imposed on Russia in relation to its aggression towards Ukraine;
  • cooperation with the Russian state-controlled instruments of disinformation and propaganda (RT, Sputnik);
  • membership in pro-Kremlin movements, groups, and organizations.

How media used the “observers”

The report highlights that the “international observers” emerged at the LDNR voting in order to “provide a sense of general legitimacy and normalcy to the ‘elections’ in the eyes of the domestic and Russian audiences.” The fake monitors were in the spotlight in the Russian-controlled media space of “DNR” and “LNR” – more than ⅓ of all news stories on 11 November mentioned the “international observers.”

The loyal and “state-run” propaganda outlets of “DNR” and “LNR,” as well as Russian media, misinformed audiences about the real international perception of the “elections.” As the report mentions, the propaganda promoted five major narratives, covering the event:

  • the “elections” did not run counter to the Minsk agreements, and, therefore, were legitimate;
  • the “elections” were characterized by a high turnout and active participation;
  • the “elections” took place in a calm and orderly manner;
  • the life in the DNR and LNR is safe and peaceful;
  • the international community should recognize the “elections,” as well as independence and sovereignty of the DNR and LNR.

Read the full report which includes the lists of identified “observers” on the EPDE website.

Thus we can see that both fake monitors and media worked hard to legitimize the event and present it internationally as real elections despite the fact that it is was condemned by Ukraine and the international community.
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