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Russia's OSCE envoy says observers from over 20 countries monitored Donbass election

Russia's OSCE envoy Alexander Lukashevich said Donbass elections were held without violations and with a high voter turnout

VIENNA, November 12. /TASS/. 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 Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR), Russian Permanent Representative to OSCE Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday.

At the special session of the OSCE Permanent Council, Lukashevich shared information received from elections commissions, observers and media. "The November 11 elections were held in an organized way, calmly, without violations, with a high voter turnout (80% in DPR and 77% in LPR). Residents had an opportunity to choose from five candidates in the Donetsk Region and from four candidates in the Lugansk Region," he noted.

"The voting process was monitored by observers from over 20 countries, including OSCE member countries (Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Turkey, Finland and France), as well as from other countries," the diplomat added.

Lukashevich explained that the November 11 elections were necessary in order to "fill the power vacuum" and ensure that the authorities are working without interruptions after the death of former DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko.

"In these conditions, Donbass has nothing left other than self-organize with the purpose of ensuring their own survival, livelihood and obligations to people who were abandoned by their country," the diplomat said. "The elected representatives will receive a mandate to solve practical issues of maintaining normal life in the region, of ensuring the operation of local authorities, of fulfillinf social obligations that Kiev refuses to acknowledge," he added.

OSCE special session on Donbass election

Russia is surprised about the special session of the OSCE Permanent Council on Donbass and considers it to be an example of double standards, Lukashevich continued. "We are surprised by the special session of the OSCE Permanent Council. The topic of elections in separate parts of Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk regions has been discussed in this hall for the last three weeks. Everybody's position on this is clear. All the possible clarifications have been provided," Lukashevich said.

The diplomat added that there is an opportunity every Thursday to exchange opinion on the situation in Ukraine and implementation of the Minsk Agreements. "What is the value added of today's meeting?" he wondered.

Lukashevich noted that over the last two years, Ukrainian forces have seized new areas along the contact line, including the demilitarized settlement of Shirokino and disengagement areas in Zolotoye and Petrovskoye. On 7 June 2017, Ukrainian forces attempted to break through near the settlement of Zhelobok, and on April 17 they shelled a bus carrying workers from the Donetsk filtration plant.

"On August 31, the signatory to the Minsk Agreements Alexander Zakharchenko was killed in Donetsk. Where is the reaction of OSCE? I will repeat, no speciall sessions of the OSCE Permanent Council were convened on this matter," the Russian diplomat said.

"Against this backdrop, OSCE has enough cynicism to state that the expression of will of Donbass residents 'undermined the Minsk Agreements'," he added. "This is an open use of double standards and condonement of arbitrariness of the Kiev authorities," the diplomat noted.

Minsk Agreements

Donbass elections have nothing to do with the Minsk Agreements, Lukashevich noted. "The November 11 elections [in Donbass] have nothing to do with the implementation of the Minsk Agreements," he said. "However, several events happened in Ukraine lately that flagrantly violate the Minsk Package of Measures signed on 12 February 2015. OSCE Permanent Council did not hold any sessions on that or refused to hold sessions," he added.

The diplomat reminded that Ukraine's new law "On Education" came into force on 28 September 2017, making it impossible to implement Article 11 of the Package of Measures, particularly the part on adopting legislation about the special status of Donbass in accordance with the right for language self-determination. On February 24, a law "On Reintegration" came into force, ruling out the possibility of amnesty envisaged by Article 5 of the Package of Measures. "Despite Russian calls on OSCE to conduct a comparative analysis of this law and the Minsk Agreements, nothing has been done," Lukashevich said.

Donbass elections

On Sunday, November 11, DPR and LPR voted to elect new heads of the self-proclaimed Donbass republics and members of their unicameral parliaments - People's Councils. Acting LPR head Leonid Pasechnik won 68.3% of votes, and acting DPR head Denis Pushilin - 60.85% of votes. In parliamentary elections, "Mir Luganschine" (Peace to Lugansk Region) movement won 74.13% of votes in LPR, while the "Donetskaya Respublika" (Donetsk Republic) movement received 72.5% of votes in DPR.

The voter turnout at the election was rather high. In LPR it reached 77%, and in DPR - 80.1%.

On November 8, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Italy's Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said that holding elections in Donbass is in contradiction with the Minsk Agreements. At the same time, Moscow, Donetsk and Lugansk repeatedly explained that the elections do not violate the Minsk Agreements because the deal only concerns municipal elections, while electing republic heads and parliament members does not fall into this category.