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Western nations condemn Russian elections in occupied Ukraine as illegitimate

Western leaders reject Putin’s election in occupied areas of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia as illegitimate, decrying the repression of opposition in Russia, lack of genuine competition.
A polling station at the presidential election in Russia. Photo: RIA Novosti
Western nations condemn Russian elections in occupied Ukraine as illegitimate

Russian President Vladimir Putin secured his fifth term with 87.97% of the vote in a general election lacking genuine competition, criticized by Western leaders as “illegitimate” and “illegal.”

Ukraine’s MFA urges media not to call Russia’s “farce” as “elections”; over 55 countries condemn vote in occupied areas

EU: Russian presidential elections non-applicable on Ukrainian territory

The European Union, through a statement by EU High Representative Josep Borrelll, has condemned the conduct of the Russian presidential pseudo-elections in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and will not recognize their results.

“[T]he European Union strongly condemns the illegal holding of so-called “elections” in the territories of Ukraine that Russia has temporarily occupied: Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, as well as in parts of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions,” the statement reads.

According to the EU statement, “the so-called ‘elections’ in these territories” are “another manifest violation by Russia of international law” and are “null and void.

The EU says the Russian presidential elections took place “in a highly restricted environment exacerbated also by Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.”

The statement notes Russia’s increased repression and restricted elections, evidenced by Alexei Navalny’s death and the absence of OSCE/ODIHR observers, which violated rights and limited choice. The EU will continue supporting Russian civil society, human rights defenders, and independent media.

Ukrainians in occupied regions vote in Russia’s election at gunpoint

In a statement, the Polish government noted that “On 15-17 March 2024, Russia held a so-called presidential election. The voting took place amid harsh repressions against society, preventing it from making a free, democratic choice.”

The government notes that in violation of international law, Russia’s “election” was also conducted in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as in Moldova’s Transnistria and Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

“Such ‘election’ may not be considered legal, free and fair,” the statement reads.

The statement notes that since the Ukraine war began, Russia has intensified repression against political opposition, civil society, NGOs, independent media, and critics of the regime, culminating in the tragic death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. With repressive laws, war censorship, politically motivated prosecutions, and the rejection of anti-war candidates, the “election” cannot be deemed free or fair. Poland “strongly condemns” these actions and objects to Russia’s prevention of independent observers and exclusion of OSCE observers from the vote.

Czechia doesn’t recognize voting in occupied Ukraine

The Czech Foreign Ministry says the Russian elections “were not conducted in a transparent and democratic manner,” and those were held “in a context of systematic suppression of Russian civil society, independent media and any semblance of opposition.”

The MFA stresses that several presidential candidates were prevented from running in the election, while OSCE observers were not allowed to monitor the polling.

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the election in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimea, Sevastopol, and parts of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions as an “illegitimate electoral farce.” The ministry accused Russia of aiming to legitimize its aggressive policy towards Ukraine and of “violating international law” by encroaching on the sovereignty of foreign states.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky called the Russian elections a “farce and parody,” saying, “This was the Russian presidential election that showed how this regime suppresses civil society, independent media, opposition,” according to CNBC.

German FM: elections without choice

Ukrinform reported that German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, speaking at the beginning of an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, stated that the “elections” in Russia constitute a violation of international law, remarking that the elections in Russia were a choice without a choice, demonstrating that Putin is violating not only the rights of his own people but also the UN Charter.

Baerbock emphasized that conducting such elections in parts of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova contradicts international law.

Estonia FM: Farce, not elections

Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tähknala, speaking before the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on 18 March, stated that the Russian “election” of President Vladimir Putin was not a legitimate expression of will and that Putin’s rightful place is in The Hague as a war criminal, according to Ukrinform.

Yesterday, some actions took place in Russia. They call it an election, but it was not an election. What we saw was not a democratic election process. It was simply the appointment of Putin as the leader of Russia. And it was not a legitimate election. And the legitimate place for Putin is in The Hague as a war criminal,” he said.

The Estonian minister also emphasized the violation of international law by holding “elections” in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and forcing Ukrainians to participate in them.

“Therefore, we can understand that this is a farce. These are not elections. And Putin bears full responsibility for the aggression, for war crimes, for the deportation of children, for violations of international law. He cannot escape responsibility. He must be held accountable as a war criminal in The Hague,” Tähknala emphasized.

Romania: Elections neither fair nor democratic

Romanian Foreign Minister Luminița Odobescu, speaking before a meeting of EU ministers on Monday, condemned the holding of so-called elections in Russian-occupied territories, as per Ukrinform.

There is no point in commenting on the election results: we all know that these elections were neither fair nor democratic nor free,” Odobescu said, emphasizing that Romania condemns the organization of elections in the illegally occupied and annexed territories.

France: “so-called ‘elections'”

The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that France condemns Russia’s “so-called ‘election'” in territories of Ukraine it occupies, including Crimea and parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts, as “a further violation of international law ” and the UN Charter, and reaffirms its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Additionally, France condemns Russia’s setup of polling stations in the separatist regions of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria without the consent of Georgian or Moldovan authorities.

The French Foreign Ministry highlighted that Russia’s electoral process was marred by a crackdown on civil society, opposition, and media, with the death of Alexei Navalny and the exclusion of anti-war candidates further undermining its legitimacy. France “salutes the courage” of Russian citizens protesting this infringement on their political rights.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister: “Imitation of elections in Russia looks like a tragifarce”

The procedure simulating voting for the Russian president, which took place under conditions of unprecedented restrictions on civil and political rights, cannot be considered and called an election, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said, according to LRT.

“Law cannot arise from illegality, and legitimacy, respected in international space, cannot arise from coercion, oppression and forgery. Therefore, we do not consider and do not call this falsified and imitation procedure an election, because it unfortunately looks more like a tragifarce,” Landsbergis said.

According to the head of Lithuanian diplomacy, the procedure was neither fair nor free, it did not meet the generally recognized standards of democracy and the rule of law.

Russia recognizes its “elections”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov defended Vladimir Putin’s victory in Russia’s presidential election as a “unique” result, dismissing Western allegations against the electoral process. According to the Russian state news agency Tass, Peskov called foreign statements questioning the election’s legitimacy “absurd” and anticipated that international congratulations for Putin’s victory would continue to arrive for more than one day.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called to congratulate his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on his re-election at the helm of the Kremlin, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said in a Google-translated report.

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