Moscow Backs Donbass Participation in Ukrainian Elections

September 15, 2014
Vladislav Surkov and Vladimir Putin, 20 September 2013. Photo: RIA novosti

Staunton, September 15 – In a change of tactics reflecting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement on Saturday that Russia wants to have a “neutral” Ukraine rather than to create another Transdniestria lest that further alienate the rest of Ukraine, Moscow will back the participation of the Donbas in the October 26 Ukrainian elections.

Under a plan reportedly being overseen by Putin advisor Vladislav Surkov, Moscow will back the so-called “Opposition Bloc” in these elections to gain more influence over Kiev’s future policies rather than support those who want a boycott.

This bloc, the Ukrainian news agency Liga points out, has a better chance of winning seats than the Party of the Regions does, which polls suggest will not exceed the five-percent barrier in a part of Ukraine it dominated earlier if it chose to run. That is probably why, the agency says, that party and Moscow have decided on a different strategy.

There are some 20 majoritarian parliamentary electoral districts in areas controlled by Russian forces and pro-Moscow militants, and if this plan goes forward, the Russian side almost certainly could guarantee that a majority or even all of these would vote for pro-Moscow candidates.