Ukraine separatists declare victory after plebiscite

posted at 10:01 am on May 12, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The vote for secession went 89% in favor in Donetsk, and 94% in favor in Luhansk — at least according to those who organized the plebiscite. Pro-Russian separatists declared victory while most of the rest of the world scoffed at the irregular vote, conducted privately and with no controlling authority except for the separatist leadership forces — and even Russia began hedging:

Residents of two regions of eastern Ukraine turned out in significant numbers Sunday to vote in support of self-rule in a referendum that threatens to deepen divisions in a country already heading perilously toward civil war.

The wording of the referendum was vague, asking whether voters favored self-determination rather than outright independence or joining Russia. That meant some of those voting yes wanted more autonomy but not necessarily to split from Ukraine.

But the vote infuriated the Ukrainian government. The Foreign Ministry called it a “criminal farce” arranged by a “gang of Russian terrorists,” reflecting the government’s view that Russian agents are behind the breakaway movement. Many residents who oppose the separatist movement boycotted the vote.

Both the European Union and the Obama administration said they would not recognize the results of the balloting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which they called illegal.

The Crimean plebiscite, which was absurd itself, at least had the mechanisms of civil authority conducting the referendum. Russia’s military hijacked that civil authority, but it at least had that much of a fig leaf. This was sheer nonsense — an “election” conducted by people holding a few government buildings, no registration checks, and reports of widespread voting fraud as people cast multiple ballots on behalf of “family.”

The Daily Beast’s Jamie Dettmer gives readers a glimpse into the rigged election, especially the run-up to the farce:

The procedures in the plebiscite managed by Denis Pushilin, a former casino croupier who is the co-chairman of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, followed the Kremlin’s house rules: the cynical strategies and plays of Russian-style “managed democracy,” not the electoral models outlined by organizations such as the United Nations or the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

The separatists used all the now familiar techniques—including weeks of armed and thuggish intimidation, the abductions and murder of opponents, multiple voting, pre-filled ballot papers, adding names to an incomplete electoral roll and allowing anyone who turned up at a polling station with a Ukrainian passport in hand to cast a ballot.

In the circumstances the separatists were restrained with their referendum result: an 89 percent majority for secession and 10 percent against on a 74.7 percent turnout. A Soviet-style majority but not as unabashed as Crimea’s supposed 97 percent secession triumph in March.

In neighboring Luhansk, one of the poorest Ukrainian regions, where similar plebiscite tactics have been employed, the leader there, Valery Bolotov, at least had the decency to appear to go through the motions of actually counting votes, and so a result will be declared later Monday. No one is in doubt about which way that vote will go, either. Luhansk separatists hint their turnout was even higher yesterday—79 percent.

Nevertheless, now that the plebiscite delivered the predetermined results, the pro-Russian separatists want their independence immediately:

Vladimir Putin called for dialogue after the vote, but appears to be distancing himself at least a little from the process:

The Kremlin made it clear Monday that it has no intention to try to annex Ukraine’s eastern provinces after the controversial referendums where the majority of voters allegedly said they backed sovereignty for their regions.

In a statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office urged the Ukrainian government to engage in talks with representatives of the eastern part of the country following Sunday’s vote. The cautious stance, which contrasted with Russia’s quick annexation of Crimea in March, appears to reflect Putin’s hope to negotiate a solution to what has become the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

The Kremlin also urged the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to help broker talks between the central government in Kiev and representatives of the east.

OCSE announced that Putin would not recognize the vote, at least not formally:

The head of the influential East-West OSCE security organisation on Monday stressed that Russia had expressed “respect but not recognition” of the separatist vote in eastern Ukraine this weekend.

“Russia sees a need to take into account the different voices in eastern Ukraine,” said Swiss President and acting OSCE chief Didier Burkhalter.

“You have seen Russia’s response, that there is respect but not recognition to the referendum. There is no recognition of these results,” he told journalists.

Perhaps Putin has begun to wonder what else he can gain from this situation, and at what cost. Without recognition from Russia, the pro-Russian separatists may twist a little in the wind regardless of their so-called victory in their self-administered plebiscite. If Ukraine can manage to conduct a national election on time in less than two weeks, those results will easily eclipse yesterday’s effort.


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Perhaps Putin has begun to wonder what else he can gain from this situation, and at what cost.

At no cost. He waits for this to turn into a civil war, and he comes into the east afterwards to mop up the mess.

Walter L. Newton on May 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM

No, not, it was a totally legit election. All this stuff about voting irregularities is just CIA disinformation! /

Doomberg on May 12, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Ukraine separatists declare victory after plebiscite

…has the DNC sent observers over there yet?

KOOLAID2 on May 12, 2014 at 10:12 AM

If Ukraine can manage to conduct a national election on time in less than two weeks, those results will easily eclipse yesterday’s effort.

Yo, good luck with that, Special Ed.

With 70% of Ukraine’s army and police refusing to cooperate with the illegal fascist regime, who will conduct the elections? The newly concucted national guard, who are basically maidan activists who were throwing molotovs at police just a few months ago and now go around eastern villages, shooting unramed people for trying to vote in a referendum?

Elections arranged by roaming armed gangs of US supported neo-nazis may be fine for your ilk, but will do nothing for reconciliation in Ukraine. But it’s not not reconciliation or peace you’re after. You want any non-Western sentiment to be stomped, even if hundreds die.

Masih ad-Dajjal on May 12, 2014 at 10:12 AM

The plebiscite was a clown act – but then, so was the 2012 election here.

Rix on May 12, 2014 at 10:13 AM

This was sheer nonsense — an “election” conducted by people holding a few government buildings, no registration checks, and reports of widespread voting fraud as people cast multiple ballots on behalf of “family.”

I’m sorry. Are we talking about Ukraine or Detroit here?

dreadnought62 on May 12, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Elections arranged by roaming armed gangs of US supported neo-nazis may be fine for your ilk, but will do nothing for reconciliation in Ukraine. But it’s not not reconciliation or peace you’re after. You want any non-Western sentiment to be stomped, even if hundreds die.

Masih ad-Dajjal on May 12, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Almighty heaven, it’s a sorry day when Hot Air trolls are better informed and spoken than local “mainstream” residents. I do hope the disparity will be limited to foreign policy.

Rix on May 12, 2014 at 10:16 AM

an “election” conducted by people holding a few government buildings, no registration checks, and reports of widespread voting fraud as people cast multiple ballots on behalf of “family.”

But enough about North Philadelphia…

forest on May 12, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Wait, I thought the separatists were all really Russian agents taking orders from Putin. Or was that just neocon BS?

Jon0815 on May 12, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Philadelphia had their own plebiscite just recently when not one single vote was cast for Mitt Romney in the 2014 Presidential election. Not one.

Statistician’s will someday speak of this impossibility but for now, like Benghazi, it remains uninvestigated.

HopeHeFails on May 12, 2014 at 10:30 AM

The Kremlin also urged the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to help broker talks between the central government in Kiev and representatives of the east.

Munich September 1938. The template for Russia in 2014. Just how much is Europe willing to cede to Russia to avoid having to admit that there is a problem with an aggressive nation-state to the east.

Happy Nomad on May 12, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Almighty heaven, it’s a sorry day when Hot Air trolls are better informed and spoken than local “mainstream” residents. I do hope the disparity will be limited to foreign policy.

Rix on May 12, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Wait, I thought the separatists were all really Russian agents taking orders from Putin. Or was that just neocon BS?

Jon0815 on May 12, 2014 at 10:30 AM

So, you guys believe that a free and fair election was conducted and that 90% of all residents of Eastern Ukraine want to break away?

Doomberg on May 12, 2014 at 10:48 AM

This also, Iran declares victory over US, via Syria.

Schadenfreude on May 12, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Masih ad-Dajjal

Google the nom; interesting choice.

AesopFan on May 12, 2014 at 10:59 AM

So, you guys believe that a free and fair election was conducted and that 90% of all residents of Eastern Ukraine want to break away?

Doomberg on May 12, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Of course I don’t. But I’m equally unsure that 51% of legit American citizens explicitly voted to be lorded over by Barack Hussein Obama.

Rix on May 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Vladimir Putin called for dialogue after the vote, but appears to be distancing himself at least a little from the process:

Have others be so far out there that you seem reasonable.

rbj on May 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Philadelphia had their own plebiscite just recently when not one single vote was cast for Mitt Romney in the 2014 Presidential election. Not one.

Statistician’s will someday speak of this impossibility but for now, like Benghazi, it remains uninvestigated.

HopeHeFails on May 12, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Those who did were in hospitals with cranial contusions inflicted by the New Black Panthers.

Putin’s Panthers were probably very active in Donetsk.

Steve Z on May 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM

No, not, it was a totally legit election. All this stuff about voting irregularities is just CIA disinformation! /

Doomberg on May 12, 2014 at 10:12 AM

The Russians missed out here, they should have paid off Jiminy Carter to supervise and approve the election.

slickwillie2001 on May 12, 2014 at 11:20 AM


This was sheer nonsense — an “election” conducted by people holding a few government buildings, no registration checks, and reports of widespread voting fraud as people cast multiple ballots on behalf of “family.”

Bwahahahahahaha

Millions of people read and watch these Washington-generated narratives and believe them. But the forward edge of the phenomenon is how many people no longer do or never have.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on May 12, 2014 at 11:34 AM

The Choom Gang got 100% support in some parts of this country, too.

formwiz on May 12, 2014 at 11:45 AM

You just know American has been fundamentally transformed when there is high voter turnout to leave the “fascist pro-American” government in favor of … … … … … the former Soviet Union

I doubt Americans will be holding a referendum to tell Imperial City DC Feds to pound sand and join Mexico or something

VorDaj on May 12, 2014 at 1:22 PM

So, you guys believe that a free and fair election was conducted and that 90% of all residents of Eastern Ukraine want to break away?

Doomberg on May 12, 2014 at 10:48 AM

It was far cry from a legally valid vote since it was conducted in the middle of a civil war. But – it was free and fair in a sense there was no coersion or black-panther like intimidation going on from the sep side.

Except for Krasnoarmeysk, where two dozen government sanctioned para-military euromaidanists arrived in unmarked civilizan vans and stopped the voting by shooting people in the head.

But legality isn’t really an issue in Ukraine since the US supported the unconstitutional coup, a coup government semi-run by neo-nazi Svoboda and the replacement of virtually all law enforcement agencies and military with armed 17 yo thugs who got their experience in throwing molotovs at cops. It’s all about the power of the masses and who wields more weaponry.

Thank you, Juan McCain, for bringing the light of democracy and freedom to yet another nation.

Masih ad-Dajjal on May 12, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Someone calculated that to reach the turnout claimed with the number of polling places open several votes would have to be made each second at each polling place.

agmartin on May 12, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Someone calculated that to reach the turnout claimed with the number of polling places open several votes would have to be made each second at each polling place.

agmartin on May 12, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Perhaps. But that requires a grasp of reality and an inkling of math. And both of those are hard.

GWB on May 12, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Wait, I thought the separatists were all really Russian agents taking orders from Putin. Or was that just neocon BS?

Putin would never send agents of the FSB into Ukraine to create instability, he would never follow them with pre-marked ballots, and he would never use the chaos and results of a rigged election as the rationale for invasion.

Those are just lies.

What’s truly amazing is that people still use the term “neocon.”

A Chair of Some Kind on May 12, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Ukraine separatists declare victory after plebiscite

Wonder if the DNC helped out with stuffing the ballots…or does Putin really need any help in that endeavor come to think of it.

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 12, 2014 at 5:40 PM

If Ukraine can manage to conduct a national election on time in less than two weeks, those results will easily eclipse yesterday’s effort.

Western media has no interest in the battlespace preparation being conducted by the Kiev junta, which includes mass intimidation, burning the offices of the potential opposition across the country, and beating up opposition candidates, in one case nearly to death.

David Blue on May 13, 2014 at 1:49 PM