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DONETSK/LUGANSK, October 2. /TASS/. Preliminary elections, or the so-called primaries, in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) were held on Sunday in a calm atmosphere. By the closure of polling stations at 20:00 local time, about 425,000 took part in the polls.
A total of 369,617 voters took part in the primaries in the DPR, the Donetsk News Agency said citing the republican interim election commission. The voter turnout in the LPR was 54,426, LuganskInformCenter said citing the local election commission.
No incidents were reported during the voting in either of the republics.
Roman Tutov, the chief of the LPR’s public security police, said that the republic’s law enforcers "are well capable to ensure public order during elections of any level" without any international missions.
Results of the voting are expected to be announced on Monday.
The elections were monitored by observers from a number of countries, including Finland, Greece, Germany, Italy, South Ossetia, and the Czech Republic. Thus, the DPR interim election commission registered 1,043 observers, including 22 from foreign countries. Accreditation was granted to 147 journalists from 23 mass media outlets from Donbass, Russia, countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the European Union. Journalists from Ukrainian mass media did not apply for accreditation. Primaries in the LPR were monitored by journalists and observers from the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Finland, Poland, Israel and India.
The first stage of preliminary voting in the DPR was held in Donetsk where people elected best candidates for mayor, lawmakers of the city and local councils and heads of Donetsk’s districts and constituent settlements, including located along the line of engagement. In the LPR, residents of Lugansk, Alexandrovka and Yubileiny voted for candidates to local self-government.
Ever since the Minsk agreements were reached, Kiev has been failing to agree the law on elections in Donbass with the self-proclaimed republics. Initially, these elections were scheduled to be held by the end of 2015. But Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) has been unable to pass a relevant law.
The self-proclaimed republics were forced to postpone the elections more than once. Finally, the republics decided to organize preliminary voting, which, according to the republics’ leaders, does not run counter to the Minsk agreements and complies with the standards of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The goal of the elections is to see who enjoys authority among the local population ahead of the local elections.
The Package of Measures to fulfil the September 2014 Minsk agreements, known as Minsk-2, that was signed in Minsk on February 12, 2015, envisaged a ceasefire regime between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) starting from February 15, 2015 and a subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.