Kiev, the other elections

The East-European country, like the EU, goes to the polls on Sunday, May 25. But the reality is quite different

Sunday May 25 will be an important day for the future of democracy in Europe: while all EU countries will hold elections for the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Ukraine will be holding much anticipated and crucial presidential elections. The appointment with the ballot was rescheduled following the Euro-Maidan protests in Kiev that culminated in late February with the flight of former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. The past months have been very hard for Ukraine: the country had to face the secession of Crimea, decreed on March 16 with a national referendum. The eastern cities in the Donbass Region, on the border with Russia, stormed. To regain control of the situation and avert the drift of secessionism, Kiev authorities dispatched troops to Crimea. With the passing of time, clashes began to escalate. The day before yesterday mortars were launched from the premises of a kindergarten to protest against the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The use of women and older people as human shields is nothing new. Yet the situation in the region is still that of a “civil war. “Even in Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea, the clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Kiev forces have caused riots, and sadly also victims. The most serious incident took place May 2: in the fire that set ablaze the Seat of the Unions 46 people were killed and 214 others suffered injuries of varying severity. Just a few days ago it was made known that the head of the investigation department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Vitaly Sakal, reported that “the people who died in the Seat of the Unions in Odessa were poisoned by chloroform”. The substance was in the’ building. Investigations are underway to ascertain its origin. Under the gaze of Europe. Thus, the Ukrainian elections of May 25 will not take place in a peaceful climate. Major measures have been taken to ensure guaranteed security. On Sunday over 75 thousand people, of which 55,700 police officers and 20 thousand volunteers, will be involved in ensuring that all proceeds smoothly. It’s no coincidence that, on the invitation of the Ukrainian authorities, a delegation of observers from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe will supervise elections procedures. The words of Wolfgang Ischinger, the new negotiator appointed by OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) came as no surprise: “We must be realistic – he said Monday on the German radio ‘Deutschlandfunk’ – the elections will not lead the rebels to lay down their arms, but it will be an important step to reach a diplomatic solution one day”. 18 candidates, 2 favorites. For the sake of complete information, there are 18 competitors for the presidency. However – says Jesuit Father Andriy Zelinskyy – there are two main competitors in the running: the favorite in most polls is Petro Poroshenko, perhaps better known as the ‘King of Chocolate’. He is opposed by Yulia Timoshenko, the ‘pasionaria’ of the Orange Revolution, who after the escape of Viktor Yanukovych, was released after three years of imprisonment. “But Timoshenko – said Fr Zelinskyy – represents the past for the Ukrainian population, and after Euro-Maidan people do not want to return to the past. “Voting procedures will be very difficult in the south-eastern regions of the country marked by “civil war”. From this perspective Putin’s reported orders to withdraw the troops engaged in the regions of Belgorod, Bryansk and Rostov, on the border with Ukraine, bode well for the future. The voice of the Church. On the eve of the elections, the bishops of the Greek-Catholic church of Ukraine sent a message inviting the Ukrainian people to go to the polls guided by the values of honesty, transparency and accountability. Candidates were asked “not to use strong and misleading slogans” and to be guided “only by the good of their people and the preservation of the independence and integrity of the Ukrainian state. “The Churches are highly regarded in the Country. Indeed, they played an active, peace-building role during the protests in Maidan”. According to the survey, 67% of the population trust their Churches. Politicians know that the Church’s support is important, thus it is no coincidence that in view of the vote the interim President Oleksandr Turchynov has asked to meet (for the second time) the members of the Board of the pan-Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations in the meeting hall of the Verkhovna Rada in Kiev. A historical voice of Ukraine, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, talked about the upcoming elections, advising people to be enlightened for the selection of candidates by the principle of the three “p”: professionalism (“it is important that the candidate is a person of quality, with political wisdom”); probity, that is, to be honest, and finally “patriotism” because “the person who will be voted is called to love his/her country”.

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