Threats aim to derail Ukraine's presidential vote

2014-05-19 22:00
(Nicholas Kamm, AFP)

(Nicholas Kamm, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Donetsk - The 38-year-old mother of two insisted on meeting in a nondescript courtyard on the outskirts of Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk. Once there, she sat down and burst into tears.

"Please don't mention my last name," she begged. "I, my family, we have received death threats. They told us they know all our names."

The woman is not a mafia turncoat or a government whistleblower, but a Ukrainian schoolteacher named Antonina. She is among thousands of teachers appointed to local election boards in Ukraine now unwittingly thrust onto the front lines of a brutal confrontation that risks tipping the country into civil war.

Ukraine is holding a presidential election on Sunday, but it has become downright dangerous for many in the east to be associated with the vote, since the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence last week.

Ukrainian police and election officials accuse pro-Russia gunmen there of seizing election commission offices and threatening members in an effort to derail the presidential vote.

The struggling interim government in Kiev has been counting on the presidential election to install a leader who would be seen as a legitimate successor to Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in February after months of street protests.

But the long-anticipated election may not be considered legitimate by Russia or Ukrainians themselves if people in a large part of the country are unable or unwilling to cast their ballots.

Nearly 15% of Ukraine's population lives on territory now largely controlled by pro-Russia militias.

"No one is going to vote because no one wants to get a bullet in their forehead," said 68-year-old Donetsk resident Dmytro Zarubo. "We've been threatened with this."

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops deployed near Ukraine to return to their home bases and praised the launch of a dialogue between the Ukrainian government and its opponents.

He has called Ukraine's presidential election "a step in the right direction" but if Russia is counselling the separatists to allow the vote to go forward, there's no evidence of that on the ground.

Other senior Russian officials have signalled the vote would be considered illegitimate because Ukrainian troops are still fighting some eastern separatists.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has sent observers to monitor Ukraine's presidential election, says there has been no significant campaigning in the Donetsk or Luhansk regions or in the neighbouring Kharkiv region, where separatist sentiments are also strong.

Ukraine election officials say armed men have occupied election commission offices in the east.

- AP
Read more on:    russia  |  ukraine
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is so much going on around you and inside your head. You may want to take your ideas to the next level. Romance may be...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.