October 6, 2015. Two news articles are enclosed.
Ukraine rebels to delay local elections
MOSCOW (AP) — Officials of the eastern Ukraine regions under the control of Russia-backed separatists [sic] say they will postpone local elections that were to be held in the next several weeks, an issue that had impeded progress toward a firm resolution of the conflict.
Ukraine’s president and Russian lawmakers hailed the move as a step toward peace in a war that has killed more than 8,000 people since April 2014.
A statement Tuesday from Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego said the rebel-run areas of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces would put off the votes until Feb. 21, 2016. The two are the Donetsk and Luhansk envoys to the Minsk-2 peace talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Donetsk had planned elections on Oct. 18 and Luhansk on Nov. 1.
In exchange for postponing the vote, the separatists say Ukraine must grant special status to the region, broadly called Donbas, as envisioned by Minsk accords.
“This paves the way for Ukraine’s return to Donbass by helping to conduct the election in accordance with Ukrainian law, on the basis of OSCE standards and certainly without the occupation [sic] forces,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said.
Leonid Slutsky, a top member of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s parliament, said he welcomed the move, “but I have doubts about how much capacity Poroshenko has to fulfill his obligations.”
Russian MP: Election postponement demonstrates Donbas commitment to Minsk accords
Postponement of elections in Ukraine’s Donbas until 2016 is fully in line with the Paris agreements of the Normandy Four leaders and demonstrates a will of the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR and LPR) to implement the Minsk agreements, a top Russian parliamentarian from the State Duma lower house told reporters on Tuesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, DPR and LPR envoys to the Contact Group on Ukraine, Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego, said in a statement that their republics agreed to postpone local elections from October 18 and November 1 until next year, but they demanded Kiev’s full compliance with the Minsk agreements.
They said Kiev should comply with the political points of the Minsk agreements on a special status for Donbas and an amnesty for “participants in events on the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”.
“The transfer of local elections in DPR and LPR to next year is in full conformity with the latest agreements reached by the Normandy Four leaders in Paris, ” the head of the State Duma committee for CIS affairs, Eurasian integration and ties with compatriots abroad, Leonid Slutsky, said.
Read also Contact Group on Ukraine starts implementing agreements of “Normandy Quartet” Kiev rejects all attempts to adopt law on amnesty, special status of Donbas Moscow expects feedback from Donetsk, Luhansk regarding new dates for local elections Delay in Minsk-2 implementation a sign of Kiev’s disinclination to resolve crisis – Peskov Donbas special status should come into effect after elections — Hollande
“Thus the republics of Donbas are demonstrating their will to the implementation of the Minsk agreements, to a peaceful settlement. We would want to expect the same from Kiev,” Slutsky said.
“Let us hope that the Ukrainian authorities will stop imitating the implementation of Minsk-2 and will make a necessary effort towards the implementation of the Paris agreements to have the elections in Donetsk and Luhansk and see a special status granted at last to the republics,” the parliamentarian said.
The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising senior representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the European security watchdog OSCE on February 12, 2015, signed a 13-point Package of Measures to fulfill the September 2014 Minsk agreements. The package was agreed with the leaders of the Normandy Four, namely Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine.
The Package of Measures, known as Minsk-2, envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk starting from February 15 and subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.
On October 2, the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine held talks in Paris in the so-called Normandy Four format. They discussed implementation of the Minsk agreements, among them the withdrawal of armaments, elections, amnesty, gas issues and other crises, and confirmed that the Minsk deals have no alternative.
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