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Voter turnout down as refugees flee war-torn Ukraine — election observer

October 27, 2014, 16:32 UTC+3 KIEV
Despite amendments to Ukrainian law simplifying voting procedures, many people were left without documents or sometimes “without money and the possibility of reaching a polling station,” experts say
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© Viktor Drachev/TASS

KIEV, October 27. /TASS/. Refugees fleeing Ukraine amid military operations in its troubled east thinned voter turnout figures in the country's parliamentary election, a social researcher said on Monday.

“More than half of voters took part in the election, and the parliament will be legitimate. But turnout was lower than in previous elections,” said Olga Balakireva, head of the Yaremenko Ukrainian Institute for Social Research, on Monday, linking this with scores of displaced citizens escaping the region's conflict.

No state agency could give exhaustive information on how many had fled, she said. “The United Nations put this figure at 400,000 to 500,000 people and many agree with it. But I believe numbers are much higher, running into three to four million people.”

Despite amendments to Ukrainian law simplifying voting procedures, many people had been left without documents or sometimes “without money and the possibility of reaching a polling station,” the expert said. Voter turnout in the Sunday poll was 52.42%, down on 57.98% in the 2012 contest.

Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) head Konstantin Romodanovsky said last week that 60% more Ukrainian nationals had been staying in Russia this year compared with 2013. Currently about 2.6 million Ukrainians were in Russia, including some 830,000 fleeing the country's conflict.

Gennady Demyanchenko, from the FMS department for citizenship issues, said on October 2 that 42,000 Ukrainian nationals had appealed for Russian citizenship this year and that more than 201,000 Ukrainians had sought temporary asylum.

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