elections on November 2 nd
in Dontesk Peoples Republic (DNR) and Lugansk Peoples Republic (LNR)
mark a turning
point in the still ongoing war. While the
May 11 th
referendum on federalization separated Donbass from Ukraine proper it
provided no democratic political structure after the separation. In
the interim, while fighting a defensive war with Nationalist Kiev,
governmental structures had to be constructed and separate republics
formed that would be responsible to the population.
The turnout for the elections in Donetsk (DNR) and Lugansk (LNR) in the first few hours of polling has been amazing. People lined up at polling stations for hours before they opened at 8 am. By 10:30 more than 10% of the region had cast their votes for parliament members (deputies of the People's Council) and leaders of the respective republics.
During the weeks before the election news went out to small towns and villages that they would vote ahead of time and the ballots were brought in unannounced. This was done to prevent terrorist acts from happening to people gathered to vote that happened in the spring referendum. On May 11 th Kiev mobilized suspected mercenary groups, Pravy Sektor, and some of what became the punisher battalions to disrupt the poll by killing voters.
On November 1 st according to Roman Laygin (Head of the Election Committee) two provocation groups with grenade launchers and heavy machine guns were captured in Donetsk. Authorities are still searching for others. In the few days before the November 2 nd ballot, polls were taken in the towns and villages that dot both Donetsk and Lugansk Republics to minimize that danger to people and make sure they had a chance to vote.
When the pollsters arrived in my town, people were mobilized to contact the residents in 6 surrounding towns. Within a few hours of setting up, 65% of the people in this area had cast their ballot. The turnout for the election was from every account higher than the original referendum for federalization that led Kiev to attack Donbass.
According to TASS German observer Manuel Oksenrayter in Donetsk, "People have a huge interest in participating in this election. There were elderly people, families with children - this is a very good sign."
By mid-day polling stations were trying to get more ballots because the turnout is much higher than even optimistically forecast. In Lugansk Republic alone, by 12:30 pm more than 230,000 votes had been cast in just over 4 hours of polling. By 1pm the original 8am to 8pm polling time had been extended to 10pm to accommodate voters.
Why November 2 nd ?
What is it that both Kiev and the West have against the date chosen for the elections in Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics? Kiev wanted regional elections in December instead. What Kiev was hoping for was to regain enough advantage to place their own governor back in charge of both governments in Donbass. Governors are appointed and regional (state) congresses are elected. If they bought enough time, Kiev would have tried to make sure nationalist party candidates were at the top of the ballots, ensuring hegemony over the politics.
The Catalyst of Democracy
November 2 nd marks the 6 month anniversary of the Odessa Trade Union House massacre . This was the event that galvanized Donbass to protect itself. The date will not be forgotten. The event will not be forgiven. This election for the new d emocracies consecrates that date concretely.