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Published in Stream:
Day 826: May 23, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
DNR To Delay 'Elections' Until After Fall 'Primaries'
6 years
Heavy Fighting In The Donbass Yesterday; 2 Ukrainian Soldiers Killed, 3 Wounded

As we have previously reported would likely happen, the Russian-backed separatist leadership in Donetsk has announced that contentious local elections are to be delayed once more, potentially into next year.

Aleksandr Zakharchenko, leader of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) today declared that the elections, which he has repeatedly stated would not be held in accordance with Ukrainian law, thereby violating the Minsk agreements, will be held either this winter, or in the first half of next year.

This buys more space for the beleaguered negotiations in Minsk, which would be derailed completely if such an election took place without Ukrainian assent and OSCE oversight. 

The elections, which had originally been scheduled for April 20, but were postponed by both the DNR and their Lugansk counterparts until July 24.

Zakharchenko said that the local elections would be preceded by a series of public "primaries" akin to those that take place in the United States.

The pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) reported, citing an unnamed source close to Zakharchenko, that the DNR leader had last night met with Vladislav Surkov, a key adviser to President Vladimir Putin.

The source said that the meeting had taken place in Donetsk, but did not specify, as DAN notes, whether this meant the Ukrainian city or the Russian border town in the Rostov region - a regular transit point for entering and leaving the separatist-held regions.

According to the source, the primaries were Zakharchenko's idea. Surkov reportedly approved of the proposal and said that he will recommend the same to the Lugansk separatist leadership.

Zakharchenko himself said that the primaries will take place in either September or October this year.

While Denis Pushilin, chairman of the DNR 'People's Soviet' and lead representative at the Minsk talks, claimed that the primaries would be an open and democratic procedure, Zakharchenko repeated his opposition to the introduction of an armed OSCE police mission to ensure security during the elections.

-- Pierre Vaux