Security primary motive for closing down polling stations in Russia — Klimkin
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has said security has been the primary reason for closing down polling stations in the Russian Federation by Ukraine.
"The primary motive behind the closure of our polling stations in Russia is, of course, security. And it's not even about such things as possible infiltration of FSB agents into election commissions, the impact on them and many other things. What we are concerned about is the security of Ukrainian citizens, who, despite administrative and propaganda pressure, still dare to become members of election commissions or simply come to the polls," Klimkin wrote in his column on the Ukrayinska Pravda website on January 3.
Also, the Ukrainian foreign minister mentioned the increase in the degree of anti-Ukrainian sentiment in the Russian Federation "to the level of hysteria." "According to opinion polls, in September 2018, 56% of the Russian population had bad or very bad attitude toward Ukraine. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that dangerous provocations will not be arranged on the E-day. Ukrainian voters and our employees could get hurt, and the buildings of the diplomatic institutions could be damaged," he said.
"In addition, there is no doubt that all those who will participate in the voting will surely end up under the hood of the FSB and are at risk of becoming victims of repression in the near future," Klimkin said.
At the same time, he said that in the early presidential elections of 2014, 49,418 people were included in the voter lists, and only 1334 of them voted. "And keep in mind that between those and current elections there have been five years of war, and thousands and thousands of dead and wounded," the minister said.
At the same time, he said there are now more than 2.5 million citizens of Ukraine in Russia and "whatever the motives of their stay in the territory of the aggressor country are, we must take care of them." The foreign minister said Ukraine respects the opinion of each of its citizens and their right to participate in the elections; therefore, together with the CEC, measures have been taken to ensure that Ukrainian citizens who wish to vote would be able to do so.
"Those Ukrainian citizens who are temporarily residing in the territory of the Russian Federation (and this is the overwhelming majority) will be able to cast their votes in Ukraine at their place of permanent residence; they only need to make sure that they are on the lists. Those who live in Russia on a permanent basis will have the opportunity to vote at the embassies of Ukraine in Georgia, Finland, and Kazakhstan," Klimkin wrote.
As reported earlier, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Ukraine on December 27, 2018 dissolved all its five foreign polling stations in the territory of the Russian Federation. According to the CEC's resolution, all those five polling stations are transferred from the territory of the Russian Federation to the embassies of Ukraine in Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Finland.
The next presidential elections in Ukraine will take place on March 31, 2019.