French observers speak out on Donbass elections
"I was an international observer, with French, Italian, German observers ..."
Published on: Nov 13, 2018 @ 22:14 – From the French Center for strategic-political analysis Stratpol
Observations of Nikola Mirkovic on the elections in RPD 13/11/2018On November 11, 2018, Xavier Moreau and Nikola Mikovic were both in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) as international election observers. Xavier Moreau asked Nikola Mirkovic what he saw on the spot as an observer.
Xavier Moreau: We find you here in the Donbass, where you have often been before, originally for humanitarian reasons, because with the association you created, West-East, you come to the aid of the Russians of Donbass in different places, whether schools, orphanages, hospitals … You also help individuals.
This time, as you have returned, at the time of this video, as an election observer, of the legislative and presidential elections to elect the president who will replace President Zakharchenko who was murdered three months ago by Kiev.
As a first step, can you explain to us the context of this election? Then we’ll come back to what you saw on that occasion.
Nicolas Mirkovic: Today, ever since 2014, there are two republics that have seceded from Ukraine: the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic.
Why ? Because of the coup in February 2014 during which, the extremists of Maidan seized power by force and violence and chased out the democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych. These extremists, as we know, are financed by Washington, Victoria Nuland confessed it, there are recordings … This coup d’etat carried out by Nazis was intended to prevent the Russian-speakers of the country from speaking Russian. I say “Russian speakers of the country,” but you must know that Russian is the lingua franca of the country, it is the most spoken language.
What have these regions done? Obviously, they were scared. They had to defend themselves: a coup d’état having taken place, they organized themselves in the Republic and, as Maidan did, they took up arms to defend themselves, because Kiev sent its extremists to teach these Russian-speakers how to live in the new junta. They refused and unfortunately we have the war today.
These two republics have a Constitution, resulting from a popular vote (there have been referendums). The two republics have overwhelmingly wanted independence. They are committed. And one of the presidents of these Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, was murdered, while he was a major player in this fight, who had taken up arms, had been wounded, was very much appreciated, a man who did not just talked talking about the war, but acted did. He was murdered in terrible conditions …
The DPR has to elect a new leader. It’s a republican democracy.
Xavier Moreau: What to say then to Mrs Mogherini, senior representative of the CFSP (External Affairs of the European Union) who considers that this goes against the agreements of Minsk and the international law?
Nicolas Mirkovic: It’s almost terrifying to hear that, because we must not forget that the power currently in place in Kiev holds its legitimacy from the Western Atlantist body, and it took power by force. To speak of democracy in this sense is against nature. You can not take power by violence in Kiev and then give lessons in democracy!
Xavier Moreau: But yes or no, does the DNR respect the Minsk agreements by organizing such an election?
Nicolas Mirkovic: The DPR fully respects the Minsk II agreements. We must not forget that in these agreements, there is a chronology, in which the Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk must obtain their autonomy, then vote to elect their elected representatives and finally, Ukraine, in the end, could resume its borders.
Today, it is Ukraine that does not respect these agreements. Let us also recall that the Minsk II Agreements provide for a ceasefire that Kiev does not respect either. We heard again last night, there are daily bombings on the positions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Kiev has brought its heavy artillery closer to the front line.
On the one hand, Kiev does not respect anything and on the other, the new republics simply live their new democracy. We must also underline the hypocrisy of Kurt Volker, who denounces the election and at the same time signs the Minsk Accords.
Xavier Moreau: Especially since the agreements were signed at the time by Zakharchenko …
Nicolas Mirkovic: Exactly. he must be replaced, but there was already a president and you need an authority with which to negotiate.
Xavier Moreau: You talked about democratic life. Today, you made a grand tour of the polling stations in Donetsk and the surrounding cities. They are 4 million inhabitants in Donbass, including 2.5 million in DNR. What did you see at the process level? Any fraud?
Nicolas Mirkovic: I was an international observer, with French, Italian, German observers … We came to ensure the proper conduct of these elections. In this regard, I saw a completely normal process.
The use of the voting booth was systematic, there was no pressure (on the contrary, there was a real plurality). So the process was therefore perfectly normal.
One thing that perhaps shocked me, compared to what we are used to seeing, is the existence of a kind of festive democracy. Around polling stations, choreographies are improvised by children. There is an almost jubilant moment when you can choose your candidate. We must not forget that it’s not so long ago that these people were afraid to speak their own language. We often complain that in the West, the vote declines or we vote by default, here people line up to enter the voting booth and vote.
Xavier Moreau: They are announcing a very strong participation. Does this seem plausible?
Nicolas Mirkovic: All the polling places I saw were full, if not particularly beautiful. People trust their leaders, their leaders, those who have decided to organize the election, to engage in independence. There is a real membership.
It must not be forgotten that in this election, the inhabitants are defending their home, their history, their city, which is not the case of the neo-Nazi militia sent here or the unfortunate conscripts sent from the four corners of Ukraine to fight here and who have no wish to go to war. We have a lot of desertion in the Ukrainian army because of the incomprehension, because it is a fratricidal war.
Xavier Moreau: We learn right now that Pushilin has just won this election. Denis Pushilin is the former Prime Minister of the DPR and was primarily responsible for negotiations during the Minsk process. What comment can you make about this young person?
Nicolas Mirkovic: It’s not surprising. I have had the opportunity to meet him, to discuss with him, to organize a conference with him. In the end, it’s continuity. He was in Zakharchenko’s team and since he was very appreciated, it’s quite logical that his right arm should be elected. He has a completely different profile, so it’s continuity but with nuance, in that he has more of a political profile. This shows that the inhabitants of the DNR want to quickly achieve peace.
Xavier Moreau: His campaign was very focused on the opening of power plants, the construction of infrastructure, … In brief, he’s one who wants to get out of the bellicose situation. He wants to emarege from the war and prepare for peace.
Nicolas Mirkovic: It is in the logic of the objective of the two republics: to ensure their durability. We can not hope for their overnight return to Ukraine.