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Armed militants attack Luhansk regional election commission


  An earlier seizure by armed pro-Russian militants in Luhansk

Masked and heavily armed men have attacked a district election commission and injured its head.  They appear to be working in close coordination with a Party of the Regions deputy and with police tacit support, if not connivance

In Krasnodon (Luhansk oblast) four masked individuals have attacked members of the district election commission [DEC] demanding that they stand down or carry out their demands.  The four turned up at around 18.00 on Tuesday evening at the House of Culture where the DEC for election district No. 108 were meeting. Judging by the smell, they had been drinking.

The head of the commission, Vladislav Kuhai asked them calmly to explain the conditions they had mentioned.  These, it turned out, were to stop preparing for the presidential elections, and not run them, but instead prepare to hold the so-called referendum scheduled for May 11.  Kuhai asked them to provide the commission with the normative basis for holding such a referendum and was told: “Our normative base is a bullet in the forehead”.

The intruders left after an agreement was reached to hold a meeting on Wednesday at 8 a.m. The commission decided to report the incident to the police and ask for protection.  Two members went to the central police station, but the police refused to accept the official statement, telling them to come back tomorrow and to not exaggerate the situation.  The commission members insisted and demanded that the head of the station was called, and the statement was finally accepted.

At around 22.00 up to 10 men armed with automatic rifles burst into the office where the head of the DEC and two women were working.  The women were shut into a room with an armed man standing guard, while the others began beating up Vladislav Kuhai.  This went on for around 40 minutes, after which the armed men demanded the voter lists.  These were not available with the preliminary lists handed to precinct commissions.  The meeting which got disrupted was supposed to have created the PEC.

Most worryingly, the only man not wearing a mask and who spoke on behalf of the assailants, either heading their group or a participant, was city council deputy from the Party of the Regions, Oleh Tarasyuk. 

These armed intruders smashed up the premises, destroying some of the documents and left, driving out the commission members . They again approached the police and not only had to wait a long time, but also heard statements to the effect that this was the way it should be, sod the elections, etc.  A second formal statement was only accepted after a phone call to an acquaintance in the SBU in Kyiv and call from the head of the central police department there.

At present the head of the DEC has sustained physical injuries and is wondering whether there is any point in reporting this to police officers clearly loyal to the pro-Russian militants who beat him up.  The PEC have not been created, the work of the DEC paralyzed, and the holding of the elections in jeopardy.

Another disturbing feature is that in both attacks the assailants were clearly awaited.  Somebody not only opened the door for them, but also ensured that there were no children or heads of activity groups in the building.

According to information which the Luhansk Regional Committee of Voters of Ukraine has received, the Krasnodon city branch of the Party of the Regions is actively involved at present in preparing for the so-called referendum on May 11.

Based on a report from the Luhansk Regional Committee of Voters of Ukraine

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