By Stanislav Aseyev for RFE/RL Ukrainian Service
(October 3, 2016) An event that the leader of Luhansk separatists Ihor Plotnitskiy has called “not quite our word” was taking place in the territories of the “LPR” and the “DPR” on Sunday -- we are of course talking about the “primary elections.” I can easily describe how it went in Donetsk because myself took part in this “theater of absurd.”
I came to one of the polling stations to look at what was going on there. First, with a great regret, I can say that there were some people at the polling stations. Even though I naively thought that after 2.5 years of the scam called the “DPR,” the situation with the “election” will at least be clear. Besides that, about a month ahead of the “primaries,” all of Donetsk was covered with flyers calling not to miss the event.
These flyers were glued to the windows and doors of restaurants, public transport, houses and stores. I know how much business owners and residents hate this “theater.” This is exactly why I thought that no one would come.
Things turned out differently: at about 2.30pm at a polling station located in one of Donetsk’ schools, I’ve counted 15 people. All of them were retirees. Police were on duty in the hall and groups of the so-called “candidates” were hanging around the room. But the interest here was more likely drawn not by the programs, but by the “candidates,” who looked like mafia members from the “wild 90’s.” Obviously, I was not planning to vote, I was interested in an entirely different question. As I was not registered in Donetsk, I asked if I can vote there at all. I was immediately told that I can, and for these purposes they have a backup list. The main feature of the list was that you form it yourself. Because no one was sitting behind the “reserved” desk, I was told to fill out the list myself and wait. After a few minutes, a fellow came, looked at my passport and, without even looking at what I wrote on the list, gave me three bulletins. I went to the voting booth, stayed a bit there, and afterwards submitted three empty bulletins into the box.
But at this stage, the most interesting part was yet to take place.
Approximately an hour later I was in the different part of Donetsk, close to another polling station. Out of curiosity I went there. And what would you think? – Yes, I was able to “vote” there as well. And this time it was in the district that I do not even live close to (not even mentioning the registration in the passport). This was truly a sad scene. First, the voters there were even older than at the previous polling station. These were grandmas close to 70 years old, who were trying to explain what was written in the bulletin standing in the half-dark corridors. Second, no one even checked my passport here: I just told them a nearby address, signed the document and received bulletins. One could “vote” like this all-day long.
Why? Because everything is very simple: no one is interested in who you want to vote for. There can be no fraud simply because everything has already been tampered with in advance long ago. And even those demonstrative debates that were arranged earlier between the so-called “mayor” of Donetsk Martynov and his opponent -- is just throwing dust into people’s eyes.
The test here was different: it was an adequacy test of Donetsk residents after two-and-a-half years of this total circus. A test which they, in my opinion, failed once again.