KIEV – Mar 30, 2019 @ 21:32 – has ordered officers of the SBU and the police special forces to take all polling stations in the country under their protection for tomorrow’s major election. This was reported on the website of the Ukrainian SBU, as well as on the international portal of the Rada. The news has also been criticized by opposition parties.
UPDATE: March 31st @ 8:20 – Election day morning – Ukrainian security forces fired on the outskirts of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic of Gorlovka with mortars of 120 millimeters, over a period of 26 minutes, the DPR representative at the joint center for control and coordination of the ceasefire regime told reporters.
Additionally he ordered them to begin patrolling the streets of cities in Ukraine today, allegedly to ensure the smooth holding of presidential elections scheduled for tomorrow, March 31st. Poroshenko has been trailing in a distant third in objective/scientific national polling surveys, carried out repeatedly and by various polling agencies. His campaign strategists have been looking at ways to ensure he gets into a run-off scenario. It is estimated that he will need to ‘turn’ some 2 million votes to make that happen. With just hours until polls open tomorrow, there is wide speculation that the militarization of polling stations is connected to his last-ditch efforts to avoid being unseated.
Last December, in the wake of the Kerch Strait incident, Poroshenko pushed for a Martial Law resolution that would go for 90 days, leading right up to the election. Under Martial Law provisions, the president takes on wide powers to determine if political actors are engaged in subversive activities, as well as control over the media. The Rada appeared to have pushed back on this, and instead of 90 days nation-wide, he was granted 30 days and limited to areas in the east of the country near the break-away republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.
“Order in the state and the rest of the citizens of Ukraine is an important element for ensuring elections. Our special forces, who came to the defense of Ukraine from the first minutes of the start of the ATO, understand this very well, ” said the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Vasily Gritsak.
He noted that the security forces in full combat uniforms began patrolling the streets, train stations, bus stations and airports throughout Ukraine. Patrols are also using combat vehicles and unmanned aircraft (aerial drones – ed FRN).
He stressed that, in particular, the National Police, the National Guard, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, the State Border and Migration Services will switch to enhanced duty.
It is unclear at the time of this report how the militarization of the polls will effect the outcome of the election. The legitimacy of the election has already been called into question at the level of EU country’s representatives at the national level.
International observers from EU countries such as Germany and Italy have already effectively been banned from being able to check the electoral process for irregularities. Ukraine created a ‘non-responsive’ process wherein Ukraine’s electoral officials have failed to respond to requests for accreditation, even though on paper there is an open process. Russian observers meanwhile were formally banned. In addition, Ukrainians living in Russia, many of whom do not identify as ethnic Russian but migrated to the Russian Federation, will be effectively barred from the election as well. Ukraine has ordered a closure of polling stations which used to be run from Ukraine’s various consular offices in Russia. In the after-math of the economic collapse brought about by the looting of the last sovereign gold reserves the country had by the U.S, following the U.S backed coup in 2014, along with a deepening crisis of privatization and corruption, in addition to an on-going civil war, millions of Ukrainians have been internally displaced, and several million have left the country. The primary destination for economic migrants and war refugees out of Ukraine have been Germany, Russia, and Poland.