Russian-Sponsored Rebels Hold a 'Referendum' on Separation from Ukraine, But a Local Journalist Finds It a Farce
Donetsk resident Ihnat Svyachyshyn sets off to vote in the May 11 Donetsk separatist referendum. He asks his neighbors, a couple in their mid-twenties to join him but they refuse. While they support a federalization of political power in Ukraine, they think the referendum is being held improperly.
Svyachyshyn, a writer for the Donetsk-based news website Novosti Donbassa, starts early in the morning as he heads to vote at School No. 60, in the city’s Smolyanka neighborhood. Few people are present and he is glad to note that there are no armed, masked men. He shows his passport and is given a ballot. His request to also vote for his wife (he actually has no wife) is rejected because he can’t present her passport. An elderly woman standing behind him votes for her entire family, having come with all their passports.
The Ukrainian operation appears “well mounted with concern for the lives of civilians and unarmed pro-Russia forces,” said Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Adrian Karatnycky. It “shows a restoration of coherence” on the part of Ukraine’s interim government that may improve its chances of successfully holding the May 25 presidential election, including in eastern Ukraine, Karatnycky said. A successful election would bolster the government’s legitimacy and its strength in confronting the Russian-backed secessionist campaign in eastern Ukraine