Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, October 29, 2015

Захарова

The internal political situation in Ukraine

I would like to comment on the local elections held in Ukraine on October 25, 2015. As you know, the final results will become clear later, after the second round of voting is held in some areas. Its results will be used to determine the newly elected mayors, including the mayor of Kiev.

However, it is possible to make some conclusions right now. Unfortunately, the present campaign, like last year’s presidential and parliamentary elections, has not contributed to defusing the existing split in the Ukrainian society and the partition of the country. Moreover, despite the optimistic claims made by Kiev officials and some of their Western partners, this trend has become even stronger due to the population’s growing disappointment with the current political situation, the ongoing economic crisis, overrunning corruption which paralyses the country, and absence of global changes for the better.

The backstage and rash adoption of the new law on local elections, which was submitted just four months before the voting date, has also had a negative impact on the election procedures in Ukraine. The law turned out to be a fragmented piece with a number of deficiencies and ambiguities, which made it difficult to be interpreted by both the electors and the organisers of the elections. Moreover, the law does not comply with some Kiev’s obligations outlined by the OSCE, as concluded by observers of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) working in Ukraine. Incidentally, they also noticed problems with registering the candidates, especially the restrictions for the nomination of independent candidates. Thus, given the flow of messages from various Ukrainian regions concerning numerous violations before and during voting, it can be assumed that the elections were far from the recognised standards of integrity and objectivity and hence can hardly serve as a model of democracy.

We hope that Kiev’s officials will draw relevant conclusions based on these critical remarks and will implement them when drafting a separate law of Ukraine in coordination with representatives of Donbass on modalities for holding local elections in the southeast of the country, which is an indispensable part of the Package of Measures of February 12, 2015.

This and other issues of Ukrainian settlement became the matter of debate at the October 27 meetings of the Contact Group and its working subgroups in Minsk. The participants also discussed the withdrawal of tanks and small-calibre artillery from the demarcation line, including its subsequent verification procedure, as well as mine clearing in the conflict area. The parties continued to discuss ways out of the relevant economic problems and the current humanitarian situation in the region.

The coordination of the issues related to the implementation of the planned exchange of prisoners was a positive point for the parties. The relevant procedure involving representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is scheduled for October 29, 2015. Eleven Ukrainian prisoners of war and nine Donbass self-defence fighters are expected to return home.

The initiatives seeking practical solutions to settle the Ukrainian crisis, including the agreements reached at the October 2 Normandy Four summit in Paris, will be continued. The possibility of holding a Normandy format meeting of foreign ministers next week is currently being addressed.