The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, was open to holding presidential elections in the middle of the war. He also blamed the Russian president for the death of paramilitary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and kyiv rejected local elections organized by Russia this weekend in the occupied Ukrainian territories.
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, stated this Friday, September 8, that he is open to holding presidential elections in the midst of the ongoing war in the country.
“I am ready for the elections. I mean, we are ready if necessary,” Zelensky said, adding that he was in favor of the presence of international observers so that, if held, the elections would be “recognized.”
According to the electoral calendar of the invaded country, March 31, 2024 is the date on which voting should be carried out to choose a new president and April 21 would be the date in the event of a hypothetical second round.
However, the president accepted that the Russian occupation in the occupied territories is an impediment to holding the presidential elections and indicated that all Ukrainian citizens “should be able to vote.”
“The most important thing is that do with temporarily occupied territories. There are those who have been under occupation since February 24. They are also Ukrainians”: Zelensky
His statements come on the same day that Russia began local and regional elections on its territory and in occupied parts of Ukraine, in an effort to tighten its control over regions that Moscow illegally annexed a year ago and still does not fully control.
Voting for the Russian-installed legislatures in the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye concludes on Sunday. The process has been denounced by kyiv and the West.
“It constitutes a flagrant violation of international law, which Russia continues to ignore”: Council of Europe
The Council of Europe, the European bloc’s main human rights body, was one of the institutions that criticized the votes.
For its part, Kiev said in a statement that the vote in areas where Russia “conducts active hostilities” represents a threat to the lives of Ukrainians and urged other countries not to recognize the results of the vote, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine called it a “farce.”
The Ukrainian Government has denounced coercion of the population of the territories occupied by Russia.
In the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, Ukrainian residents and activists have reported that election workers make home visits accompanied by armed soldiers, and most voters know little about the candidates.
“In most cases, we don’t know these Russian candidates and we don’t even try to find out,” a local resident told the Associated Press news agency.
Zelensky blames Putin for Prigozhin’s death
Volodymyr Zelensky claimed this Friday that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin killed the head of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in the August plane crash.
“The fact that he killed Prigozhin – at least that is the information we all have, not any other kind – also speaks to his rationality and the fact that he is weak,” Zelensky said.
Wagner’s militiamen were on the front lines of combat in eastern Ukraine, including the bloody battle for the city of Bakhmut.
Prigozhin died in a crash of his private plane between Moscow and St. Petersburg at the end of August, according to reports from Russian authorities.
A week after the accident, the Kremlin assured that investigators were examining all avenues, including that of “premeditated crime,” to explain what happened.
A few days earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had described as “absolute lies” and “speculation” the insinuations, especially from the West, that the Kremlin had ordered Prigozhin’s elimination.
Western tanks join Ukrainian counteroffensive
Ten Leopard 1 tanks are already in Ukraine and more are on the way, according to the Danish military body in a press release published on its website.
Meanwhile, the fighting does not stop in Ukraine. On Friday, a Russian missile attack killed one police officer and wounded at least 73 people, including nine police officers, Ukrainian officials said. And another attack in the southern region of Kherson killed three people.
With AFP, AP and Reuters
Source: France 24