Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (132) – Election Update


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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The Ukrainian election is the dominant topic related to both Ukraine and Russia today, and there are an unusually large number of reports from Western and Ukrainian media. As the Ukrainians have done everything on paper ballot and tally sheets to defeat Russian cyberattacks, we have yet to see any early results, and it is currently approaching circa 20:20 hrs in Kyiv. Many reports of minor breaches of proper election protocols, mostly by voters, but no reports of any major breaches, no major incidents of violence (other than Russian mercenaries shooting at Ukrainian positions in Donbas), no systemic irregularities, and no major cyber incidents. Ukrainian embassies overseas have hosted voters, and reports from Poland and Czechia suggest that numbers of voters challenged arrangements. JFO troops were rotated out of their positions to vote at rear area stations. Turnout reported to be around 45% and quite consistent across most of the country, other than the sparsely populated South-Western Oblasts, highest turnout in Northern and Eastern Ukraine, notably the regions most exposed to Russian attack.

The orderly progress of the election and absence of any significant irregularities represents yet another failure in Russia’s designs for Ukraine, and as both Gregory and Dickinson point out in their excellent essays, Russia is the big loser here. Pres Poroshenko articulated many of the key points in his public addresses before the election, a number cited below. Also included some Russian propaganda items that mostly lack potency – like much of current Russia propaganda output.

Whether we see initial tallies in coming hours remains to be seen – integrity was clearly seen as paramount, ahead of timeliness.

Other developments: Russia continues its aerial probing of UK IADS. Inozemtsev labels Russia a “Proto-Fascist State”, lacking the ideological nationalistic coherence of the NSDAP state. Shein on Russia’s economic depression. Rebellions across Russia’s prison system. Police in the Caucasus refuse to disperse protesters. NYT on Russian wetwork. New Slovakian president Čaputová. Crimea updates. Donbas update. Ukraine’s catastrophic brain drain to the West – it is significant and hurting the economy.

OCU reports 506 parishes have defected from the ROC.


UK fighter jets intercept Russian Tu-160 bombers flying over North Sea – Defence Blog

The Royal Air Force scrambled Typhoon fighter aircraft to intercept two long-range Russian bombers that flew over the North Sea approaching UK airspace. The RAF said that on 29 March, Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon fighter aircraft scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth, with an RAF Voyager from Brize Norton, to monitor two Russian Blackjacks approaching UK airspace. The RAF worked closely with NATO partners to monitor the Russian aircraft as they passed through a variety of international airspace before they were intercepted over the North Sea. Our fighters escorted them from the UK’s area of interest and ensured that they did not enter UK sovereign airspace. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Our brave RAF pilots have shown again that we are ready to respond to any threat to the UK. Alongside our NATO allies, we must remain vigilant and aware of Russian military activity.” The RAF routinely identify, intercept and escort Russian aircraft that transit international airspace within proximity to the UK’s area of interest and continue to be on call every day. This is the second time this week RAF aircraft have taken to the air to investigate Russian activity, following a similar incident on Wednesday evening, but on that occasion, an intercept by the Typhoons was not necessary. For reference, the Tu-160 bomber is capable of carrying the strategic cruise missile Kh-55MS, which is known in the West by the Nato designation and codename AS-15 Kent. Up to 12 Kh-55MS missiles can be carried, six in each bay. The Kh-55MS is propelled by a turbofan engine. The maximum range is 3,000km, and it is armed with a 200kt nuclear warhead.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia isn’t a Democracy but Rather a Proto-Fascist State, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 30 – One of the unfortunate consequences of the collapse of the Soviet empire internationally and domestically, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, is that people in the West and in Russia called many countries democratic when they in fact were not out of a desire to proclaim “the end of history.” That has led to the rise of an era of hyphenated democracy in which the adjective takes away most of the meaning of the noun, the Russian economist and commentator says, something that allows people on all sides of the divide to remain convinced that they live in a new democratic society when in fact they live in an authoritarian one. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of Russia where both many Russians and many in the West refuse to recognize that the Russian state today is not a democracy but rather a kind of authoritarian regime that resembles in various ways the fascist one of Mussolini, a point made in the latest excerpt of his book A Non-Modern Country (ej.ru/?a=note&id=33598). Russia is not and does not currently have the ability to transform itself into a liberal democracy, Inozemtsev says. That reflects first of all the fact that in Russia, the state has an elevated role that does not permit the formation of any opposition: Dissidence is possible; but real opposition movements and parties are not. Second and related to that, the state is highly personified; but not only the state is. So too are those who oppose it. As a result, they cannot form political parties of the kind that exist in democratic societies. And third, Russia is a raw materials producer and the state is about redistributing its earnings from that rather than promoting the development of the economy. The commentator suggests that Russia should be called not a democracy but rather “a preventive plebiscite” state, one which doesn’t respond to social demands but creates its own environment on the basis of which it acts, insists on an agenda defined in such a way that no one can really be against it, and is involved in everything except economics as such. Many in Russia and abroad can’t see this, he suggests, not only because they don’t want to admit that “an ordinary authoritarian dictatorship” has arisen in a major Western country in this century, especially after they proclaimed the triumph of democracy, but also because there has been so much real progress in rights and freedoms since Soviet times. But in addition to these two restraining factors, Inozemtsev says, there is a third which makes dispensing with this prejudice that Russia is a democracy especially difficult. And that is this: Russians themselves feel free even though they are not in a democratic state, something Westerners can’t fully understand. Many in the West do not understand that few Russians connect their lives with the state or seek to change it beyond getting it out of their way. What happened at the end of Soviet times was people organized to force the old state out of this or that sphere of their lives, thus destroying it, rather than working to create something new in its place. That has had three major consequences for post-Soviet Russian, the economist says. First, there has been a complete disconnect between political and economic interests for the vast majority of Russians. Second, the state has allowed people to violate the rules as long as they don’t challenge the state. And third, Inozemtsev continues, people can now exit the system by emigration or simply dropping out. The state doesn’t need to destroy them as it did in the past. It can simply dispense with them in one of these two ways. “As a result,” he says, “we have a free society with an authoritarian regime, a symbiosis which always was thought impossible” but exists and survives. The hyphenation of democracy should lead people to recognize that there are not only many kinds of democracy but there are many kinds of authoritarianism. Russia resembles a fascist state but in its original Italian rather than German Nazi form in four significant ways: First, it celebrates force, war and imperialism; second, its state seeks to control all major branches of the economy; third, it both increases and decreases the state’s monopoly on the use of force; and fourth, it relies on mass mobilization via propaganda which also promotes a charismatic leader supposedly backed by the will of the people. In calling Russia a fascist state, Inozemtsev says, it is important not to equate it with Nazi Germany. “The authoritarian powers that be in Russia do not have – and apparently cannot have – a firm nationalist component.” And at the same time, while Nazism came to Germany with Hitler, corporatism came to Russia not with Putin but via the 1993 Constitution. That document “was written it would seem by democrats,” but it introduced the notion that any president could not be pushed from the scene except by death or his own choice. That happened in the authoritarian Russia of the present time “not in 2012” as many imagine “but in 1996,” the first election after the new constitution was adopted. “Russia in its current form cannot be called a democratic country,” Inozemtsev says. “At the same time, however, it remains a European country,” one that oscillates between authoritarianism and democracy, private interests and public values much as is the case elsewhere in Europe. “Today,” he suggests, “one must start one’s analysis from the fact that in modern European history deviations from the democratic path although encountered often always remain temporary. More than that, the history of corporate regimes is characterized by the fact that they never survive after the departure of their founders.” What that means for Russians is this, Inozemtsev says: “One need not try to destroy the retrograde and undemocratic Russian regime. One must try to ‘survive’ it and when this happens, one must hope that the surrounding world will not repeat the errors it made in the past and work to incorporate this un-modern country into its sstructures.” “Only by such methods will it be possible to bring it up to date,” the analyst concludes.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Economy isn’t in Crisis: It is in a Depression, Shein Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 30 – Two out of three Russians (68 percent) tell the Public Opinion Foundation that they believe that their country is in the midst of an economic crisis, four percent more this year than last. And only one in twelve (eight percent) believe that there is any chance that this crisis will be over in a year’s time (rosbalt.ru/russia/2019/03/28/1772262.html). Among the Russian parliamentarians the Regions.ru news agency surveyed, Oleg Shein, a Just Russia member of the Duma committee on labor, social policy, and veterans affairs, offers an even bleaker assessment. He says that what Russia faces “not so much a crisis as a depression” (regions.ru/news/2626640/). Crises are cyclical, he points out; and they contain within themselves the bases for recovery. “But a depression can last for an infinitely long period until some external political conditions arise that will change the situation.” Those are not now on the horizon at least as long as the current regime remains in power. For example, he says, a crisis may be brought on by overproduction. Too many goods are produced and remain unsold; but once they are bought, new goods have to be produced and the economy begins to recover. But “a depression is something else. This is when the national government by its decisions kills all possibilities for the development of domestic production.” And consequently, “as long as this government will be running things, there cannot be any growth or restoration of the economy,” Shein says. Consider how the economy functions under the Putin regime: Russian companies extract oil and gas, sell them abroad, and then put the money they earn into offshore accounts. Little or none of it goes to the population. Instead the regime seeks to take as much money from the people as possible, by increasing the pension age and raising taxes. As a result, domestic demand continues to fall, something exacerbated by the decline in wages as a result of the pension reform, the parliamentarian says; and unless there is an unexpected boom in international oil and gas prices, the economy will continue to be “in crisis” but in fact “in a depression.” “One can only agree with society” that the Russian economy is in trouble; but, Shein continues, “society must draw the conclusion that the powers that be must be changed because it is they who are the threat for the present and future of our country.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: In Putin’s Russia, Even Ordinary Prisoners are Now Revolting Against Their Jailors

Paul Goble Staunton, March 30 – At the end of Stalin’s time, prisoners in the GULAG staged numerous revolts, actions that rapidly multiplied after his death and were among the major reasons that the Soviet leadership ended the prison camp system on which the Soviet dictator’s power had rested. Now, in the 19th year of Vladimir Putin’s reign, prisoners in the Russian penal system are similarly restive, not only staging revolts in various camps and prisons but no longer being the subservient and obedient inmates that the guards and their masters have long counted on. Instead, they have increasingly attacking their jailors. Not surprisingly, jailors are angry and perhaps even afraid. But as one would expect, the Russian penal system is using complaints about prisoners attacking guards as a way of distracting attention from guards attacking prisoners. The penal authorities say prisoners are attacking guards 20 times more often than guards prisoners — and that the imbalance is growing. In reporting this complaint by the Russian penal authorities, Kommersant notes that activists involved with the defense of the rights of prisoners say that “the data do not fully reflect reality: those incarcerated have few chances to register traumas they have had inflicted upon them or gather evidence to make complaints (kommersant.ru/doc/3929954). According to the penal authorities, the number of attacks by prisoners against guards increased from 175 to 203, the number of guards who were injured from 46 to 55, and the number of cases where groups of prisoners banded together to attack guards went up from 10 to 20. But according to Yakov Iontsev of the Public Verdict prisoner defense NGO, if one excludes the prominent case of November 2018 Yaroslavl prisoner revolt, the authorities brought charges against only 10 guards but brought charges or imposed serious punishments on 250 prisoners. The real number of crimes by guards against prisoners is unknown. The lack of reliable statistics about such crimes or even any evidence at all is a serious problem, something international authorities and even Russian government officials have begun to talk about. Last July, Jens Modvig of the UN Committee Against Torture called on Russia to define torture, something it hasn’t done, to include many actions by guards against prisoners. That call was echoed by Tatyana Moskalkova, the Presidential plenipotentiary for human rights. But to date, the Russian government has taken no action in that direction. As a result, it controls the statistics that are put out – and can use them as in the present case to make its case rather than to reflect reality.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin’s Biggest Nightmare Happens in Ingushetia: Police Unit Refuses to Act Against Protesters

Paul Goble Staunton, March 29 – The greatest fear of an authoritarian regime is that it will give an order to disperse protesters and the police will refuse to act. That happened in Ingushetia where an entire battalion of police three days ago refused to move against their co-ethnics who were protesting against the border change with Chechnya and the rule of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. In response, the authorities have disbanded the unit and secured the resignation of the republic interior ministry head (fortanga.org/2019/03/posle-mitinga-v-ingushetii-nachalis-goneniya-uvoleny-dva-desyatka-politsejskih/,fortanga.org/2019/03/glava-mvd-ingushetii-posle-mitinga-ushel-v-otpusk/, and meduza.io/news/2019/03/29/v-ingushetii-rasformirovali-batalon-politsii-otkazavshiysya-razgonyat-aktsiyu-protesta). Not all the forces of the regime went over to the people on this occasion. Not only were there numerous and likely Russian snipers in nearby buildings (fortanga.org/2019/03/miting-v-magase-prohodil-pod-pritselami-snajperov/), but the regime has sufficient police power on its side to force the demonstrators to disperse after several clashes between the crowd and the police (fortanga.org/2019/03/organizatory-mitinga-v-magase-rasskazali-ob-itogah-i-planah/). Ingush officials said they had been forced to use force against the protesters after the latter refused to obey orders to disperse, but the protest organizer said that all responsibility for the use of police power against the people lay with the authorities (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/333555/fortanga.org/2019/03/vlast-neset-otvetstvennost-za-sotsialnoe-napryazhenie-v-ingushetii/ and zamanho.com/?p=5699). The conflict appeared to be spreading: a federal highway was blocked and there was shooting near the mayor’s office,, although who was responsible for these two events remains uncertain (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/333615/kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/333540/andfortanga.org/2019/03/strelba-u-merii-nazrani-ne-imeet-otnoshenie-k-protestam/). But because conditions in Ingushetia appeared to be deteriorating, the Russian side introduced a significant but unknown number of military personnel after the demonstration in a show of force intended to subdue the population (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/333616/ and kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/333550/).

Russia Ordered a Killing That Made No Sense. Then the Assassin Started Talking. – The New York Times

It turned out the killer of a Ukrainian electrician was working for Russian intelligence agents. RIVNE, Ukraine — The target lived on the sixth floor of a cheerless, salmon-colored building on Vidinska Street, across from a thicket of weeping willows. Oleg Smorodinov found him there, rented a small apartment on the ground floor, and waited. He had gotten the name from his two handlers in Moscow. They met at the Vienna Cafe, a few blocks from the headquarters of Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, and handed him a list of six people in Ukraine. Find them, they told Mr. Smorodinov, and he set off. He was already boasting to friends that he was a spy.

UAWire – Serbian President refuses to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucić compared the situation with the Crimea, which was annexed by Russia, and the disputed region of Kosovo, which …

Poroshenko congratulates Caputova on winning presidential election in Slovakia

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has congratulated Zuzana Caputova on winning the presidential election in Slovakia.

Elections in Slovakia: What Zuzana Čaputová’s victory means for Ukraine?

Slovakia is going through changes. About two weeks ago, liberal oppositionist Zuzana Čaputová, unexpectedly won in the first round of the presidential election. She became a politician last year. Zuzana Čaputová is expected to win in the second round of the presidential race, which is about to start. In 2016, she won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her relentless campaigning against the opening of a landfill in the town of Pezinok, which, if opened, would further aggravate potential health hazards and would contribute to urban pollution.

Crimean Tatars’ Leader: Russian Detentions Aim at Purging Followers 

Mejlis chairman also says Russian security forces detained any activists attending court hearings in support of people jailed without sentencing

Twenty-three earlier detained Crimean Tatars transported to Rostov region, to be placed in five detention facilities – Denisova

Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova has reported that 23 Crimean Tatar, detained by Russian security officials in the occupied Crimea, are currently held in Rostov region of the Russian Federation.

Crimean limbo: How low can Russian propaganda go? |Euromaidan Press |

How low will the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti go in trying to create the impression that Crimea has become accepted by the rest of the world as a part of Russia? The answer is: Very low. Ahead of the 5th anniversary of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, Russian state-funded RIA Novosti published an article under the headline, “German Media Outlets Report on the ‘Renaissance’ of Russian Crimea,” quoting alleged German praise of the annexation and the development of the Ukrainian peninsula while under Moscow’s control.

Russia-led forces fire large-caliber machine guns at Ukrainian positions in Donbas on March 31 – news war | UNIAN

Russia-led forces fired large-caliber machine guns and small arms at Ukrainian positions in Donbas from 00:00 to 18.00 Kyiv time on Sunday, March 31. There have been no Ukrainian army casualties.

Occupation forces fire on positions of Ukrainian military in Donbas on day of elections, no casualties – JFO

Occupation forces since the beginning of the day and as of 18:00 on Sunday had fired on the positions of the Ukrainian military in Donbas with heavy machine guns, there are no casualties, the press center of the Joined Forces Operation has said.

Russian-led forces launch six attacks on Ukrainian troops in Donbas

Russian occupation forces launched six attacks, using weapons banned under the Minsk agreements three times, on positions of Ukrainian troops in the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) area in Donbas over the past day. — Ukrinform.

Ukraine Reports Escalation Of Attacks On Eve Of Presidential Vote

One Ukrainian soldier was killed and four wounded in what the Ukrainian military has called an escalation of attacks by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, one day before the country vote…

Poltorak: Situation on Russian border complicated, threat of open aggression remains

Defense Minister of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak has said that the situation on the Ukrainian-Russian border is still difficult, Russia has a desire to seize all of Ukraine, but the Armed Forces are ready to defend the state.

UAWire – Ukrainian military: in recent days situation in Donbas has escalated significantly

Over the past 24 hours, pro-Russian militants have violated the ceasefire in the Donbas 19 times, while using weapons prohibited by the Minsk …

SBU reveals weapon supply channel by Russia to UN arms embargo countries

Counter-espionage agents of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) jointly with the Central Investigations Office of the SBU have closed an international channel of weapons and ammunition supply to the countries on which the UN arms embargo is imposed. Counter-espionage agents of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) jointly with the Central Investigations Office of the SBU have closed an international channel of weapons and ammunition supply to the countries on which the UN arms embargo is imposed. “Within the criminal proceedings initiated under Part 2 of Article 201 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine after an illegal weapon storage site with 36 5V27D missiles used for the S-125 Pechora air defense missile system belonging to Rosoboronexport was found in Ukraine, the SBU operatives seized an arsenal of weapons,” the press center of the SBU said on Friday. Thus, during the authorized investigative actions, law enforcement officers, in addition to the mentioned missiles for the S-125 air defense system, additionally seized RPG-7, RPG-18 and RPG-22 grenade launchers, TM-62M anti-tank mines, MON-100 anti-personnel mines and tritol slabs weighing more than 200 kg on the territory of one of the seaports. They also found grenades for the RPG-7, packages with powder charge for PG-7PM handheld grenade launcher, boxes with electric detonators and MVCH-62 fuses. The SBU said that it is indicative that the military cargo of OJSC Rosoboronexport was not stored in accordance with the name and actual products, but only by the number of containers and estimated weight. “According to the available information, the Russian Federation used Ukrainian ports as a transit base for supplying arms to third countries. With the onset of Russian aggression, this arsenal could be used by Russian intelligence services to create so-called “weapon caches” in southern Ukraine to destabilize the situation in the region using sabotage groups, controlled by the Russian Federation,” the press center of the SBU said. Based on the materials of the SBU, investigative actions are carried out to establish all the circumstances of the offense and to bring to justice the persons involved in illegal activities. As reported, on March 27, 2019, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said that Russians from Ukraine attempted to illegally export 36 land-to-air 5B27D missiles used in the C-125 Pechora missile system. “From 2007 to the present time, Rosoboronexport officials from Russia, by prior agreement with officials of an enterprise of the military-industrial complex of Ukraine, carried out the illegal movement across the customs border of Ukraine with concealment from customs control of weapons, ammunition, explosive substances – namely, 36 ground-to-air anti-aircraft missiles 5B27D, which are part of the S-125 Pechora missile system, along with related equipment,” Lutsenko said. Lutsenko said criminal proceedings involving the matter began in January 2019. The prosecutor general said Russian officials in 2007, using fake documents, attempted to export the weapons to Eritrea, and possibly to other countries after certain manipulations with the documentation in order to undermine Ukraine’s image.

A brain drain is devastating Ukraine

Those who are leaving blame a lack of job opportunities, an ongoing war against Russian-backed separatists and a failure of political will.

Paul Gregory | Putin stands to be the biggest loser of Ukraine’s elections | TheHill

Despite its flaws, Ukraine will conduct a democratic election that will reflect the will of its people.

Peter Dickinson | Whoever Wins Ukraine’s Presidential Race, Russia Has Already Lost

It’s election season on Kremlin TV, but the presidential campaign receiving wall-to-wall coverage from Russia’s federal channels is taking place across the border in Ukraine. This is hardly surprising. Moscow’s obsession with all things Ukrainian is well-documented and reflects the centrality of information operations to Vladimir Putin’s five-year hybrid war against Ukraine. What’s interesting about this coverage is the absence of a preferred pro-Russian candidate. Instead, the Kremlin is focused on discrediting the electoral process itself. While the spectacle of a dictatorship accusing its neighbor of democratic shortcomings may at first glance seem absurd, this strategy makes perfect sense. With no chance of achieving a favorable result, Russia is simply getting its excuses in early. The Kremlin certainly has a lot of explaining to do. There was a time in the not so distant past when Moscow was guaranteed a leading role in any Ukrainian election. Indeed, less than a decade ago, staunch Kremlin ally Viktor Yanukovych secured 49 percent of the vote to win the Ukrainian presidency. Such figures are beyond the wildest dreams of Russia’s current leading candidate Yuriy Boyko, who will be happy if he secures more than 10 percent in Sunday’s first round of voting. Meanwhile, Russia must watch from the sidelines as Ukraine’s three leading presidential candidates denounce Putin’s war while burnishing their credentials as opponents of Kremlin aggression. Moscow still has its own preferences in Ukraine’s race. Putin has made it clear that Russia does not want incumbent Petro Poroshenko to secure a second term. However, this does not make the alternatives any more palatable. Wildcard candidate and TV comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy is probably the preferred Kremlin choice due to his support for the Russian language and stated readiness to negotiate bilaterally with Moscow. At the same time, he has spoken of the need to wage a Russian-language information war against the Kremlin and repeatedly ruled out any compromises that would sacrifice Ukrainian sovereignty. Veteran campaigner and former two-time Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is also seen as a potential improvement due to her past readiness to cut murky gas deals with the Kremlin, but she has spent much of the campaign promising the return of occupied eastern Ukraine and Crimea, while lambasting Poroshenko over alleged defense sector corruption. Both Zelenskiy and Tymoshenko have faced campaign trail attempts to portray them as Kremlin stooges, but in reality they are a million miles away from the openly pro-Russian politicians who once dominated the Ukrainian electoral landscape. Crucially, they are also operating in a drastically changed political environment. Even if either of Poroshenko’s chief rivals was personally inclined to seek a negotiated compromise with Russia, they would find their room for maneuver severely restricted by prevailing Ukrainian public opinion, which strongly opposes anything even hinting at capitulation to the Kremlin. It is not difficult to understand why Russia has become so toxic to Ukrainian voters. Since the outbreak of hostilities in 2014, Moscow’s ongoing hybrid war has killed over 13,000 Ukrainians and left millions of lives in tatters. The Kremlin’s fateful decision to attack Ukraine has proven a geopolitical blunder of historic proportions that has fractured what was previously one of the most closely entwined bilateral relationships on the planet. Moscow’s miscalculation has its roots in the lingering imperial hubris that prevents many in Russia from thinking of Ukraine as a separate country. The available evidence suggests that in spring 2014, the Kremlin genuinely believed local populations would welcome the Russian seizure of Ukrainian towns and cities throughout the south and east of the country. The grassroots opposition Russia encountered from Ukraine’s volunteer war effort came as a nasty surprise that led to the current stalemate. Moscow now finds itself trapped in its eastern Ukrainian enclaves, unwilling to advance due to the prohibitive costs this would involve, and unable to retreat for fear of sparking a nationalist backlash inside Russia itself. The Kremlin has occupied enough of Ukraine to inflict national trauma, but not enough to dictate terms to the remainder of the country. As well as turning Ukrainian public opinion decisively against Russia, Putin’s invasion has also effectively disenfranchised the Kremlin’s traditional electoral base of Ukrainian supporters. The three Ukrainian regions currently under Russian occupation (Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk) provided the lion’s share of votes for Yanukovych in the 2010 presidential race. Their removal from the Ukrainian democratic process dramatically reduces Russia’s ability to influence the outcome of future Ukrainian elections. With the loss of Crimea and part of the Donbas, 3.75 million fewer Ukrainians can vote, and in 2010, 87 percent of these voters backed pro-Russian candidate Yanukovych. This means that a quarter of Yanukovych’s voters cannot vote on Sunday. Nor is there any reason to believe Moscow can eventually regain the ground it has lost since 2014. The wounds of the current war will take decades to heal. Meanwhile, Russia’s remaining Ukrainian voters are overwhelmingly pensioners clinging to increasingly anachronistic notions of a shared Soviet past. This dwindling electorate is being slowly but surely replaced by an emerging generation of post-independence Ukrainians with no personal memory of the Soviet era whose views on Russia will inevitably be informed by the current conflict. The removal of Russia as a leading electoral force in Ukrainian politics is arguably the most significant geopolitical outcome of Putin’s war. It is part of a broader process taking shape over the past five years that has seen the erosion of Russian soft power tools as Ukraine has broadened its economic horizons while cutting religious, cultural, and social ties to the country’s former imperial master. Trade with Russia has withered to a fraction of its former levels as exports to European and Asian markets have boomed. Ukrainians now enjoy visa-free travel to the European Union and have their own Orthodox Church. At street level, millions have ditched Kremlin-controlled social media platforms in favor of Facebook, while Russian serials no longer dominate Ukrainian TV schedules. None of this would have been possible without the catalyst of Russian aggression. Ukraine’s nation-building odyssey is still a work in progress and it may take decades before the divorce from Russia is complete. Nevertheless, Moscow’s bystander status in the current Ukrainian presidential race illustrates how rapidly the split has escalated since 2014. Kremlin pundits can rave about rigged votes and falsification as much as they wish, but the fact remains that Putin’s dreams of informal empire have suffered a decisive defeat. Three hundred years of Russian dominance over Ukraine are drawing to a close, and the Kremlin has nobody to blame but itself. Peter Dickinson is a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council and publisher of Business Ukraine and Lviv Today magazines. He tweets @Biz_Ukraine_Mag.

Ukraine’s president is running against … Vladimir Putin – CNN

Kiev, Ukraine (CNN)The front-runners in Ukraine’s presidential election are a chocolate magnate, an energy tycoon-turned-populist and a television comedian. That may sound like a parody headline, but Sunday’s vote is a serious business for a country at war. Ukraine has been locked in a proxy war with Russia since 2014, when Russian troops annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, and Moscow fueled a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. The United Nations estimates that, as of February 15, the fighting has claimed almost 13,000 lives, with at least 3,321 civilian deaths and an estimated 9,500 combatants killed. The incumbent, President Petro Poroshenko, is campaigning on his ability to play tough with Russia. In a statement this week on Twitter, Poroshenko cast Russian President Vladimir Putin as his main opponent. “When asked who is my ally, with whom I am ready to unite and coordinate my actions, I answer: my ally is the Ukrainian people,” he tweeted Tuesday. “Who is my opponent? I am not ashamed to say it openly — this opponent is Putin.” Sunday’s vote, however, may bring no clear outcome. If there is not an outright winner with an absolute majority of votes in the first round, the top two candidates go on to a second round on April 21. Poroshenko faces an uphill battle to make it to that second round. Earlier this week, a poll by Rating Group Ukraine showed that the leading candidate, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has the support of 27.7% of intended voters. Just under a year ago, the President’s support among likely voters was in the single digits. Since then, Poroshenko has reduced the gap: In another recent survey, American pollster GQR found the current president catching up with Zelenskiy, with 20% of likely voters saying they would vote for him if the election were held the coming Sunday.

All Eyes On Three Front-Runners As Ukraine Presidential Vote Offers Wrinkle On Familiar Challenge

War-weary Ukrainians face a fresh national test on March 31 at the polls to pick a new president from an unprecedentedly broad field whose front-runners offer starkly different resumes. Pollsters suggest Ukraine’s 35 million eligible voters are desperate to elect a leader who can steer the country to peace after five years of fighting in eastern Ukraine and tackle runaway corruption to help lift the former Soviet republic out of political stagnation. The biggest question entering the possible two-round contest was whether voters were prepared to hand the presidency to a political novice who has made a showbiz career of poking fun at politicians or would rally around one of the dozens of current or former officials on the ballot — which includes incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, former generals and spooks, nationalist firebrands, and a handful of people who played prominent roles in the popular upheavals that have ousted two Ukrainian administrations in the past 15 years. Ukrainians and outsiders hope the eventual winner this time can bring much-needed stability and reform to a country that is a key transit route for Russian gas and an ally in Western efforts to keep a resurgent Russia in check. Polling stations were expected to open across the country at 8:00 a.m. local time (5:00 a.m. UTC) and close at 8:00 p.m., with exit-polling data announced soon afterward. A recent surge in the polls for Poroshenko tempered claims that the country was ready to turn the page on the incumbent, whose entrepreneurial success helped him ride a wave of national mobilization and pro-Western sentiment to a landslide victory after war broke out against Russia-backed separatists five years ago. But the surprising front-runner in pre-election polls was 41-year-old comic and sitcom “president” Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has parlayed his prime-time prominence as a “Servant Of The People” into a serious challenge to the political establishment. One of the last pre-election polls, by the Kyiv Institute of Sociology (KIIS), showed Zelenskyy’s voter support at 20.9 percent, followed by Poroshenko at 13.7 percent and two-time Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko at 9.7 percent.

Ukraine’s Election Will Test the Strength of Its Democracy – Foreign Policy

The outcome of the vote is not nearly as important as the quality of the electoral process.

Ukraine’s election will test the strength of its democracy – 112.international

On Sunday, Ukrainians go to the polls to elect their next president, in the second such contest since the country reclaimed its democracy from Russian interference in 2014. This election isn’t just about who will be the next president of Ukraine. The integrity of the Ukrainian state itself is at stake—strong democracy will ultimately serve as the best guarantor of the country’s sovereignty and stability. Any backsliding in the democratic process would serve Russian President Vladimir Putin’s purposes by sowing division, leaving Ukraine vulnerable to further manipulation and halting its path to a European future. Five years after the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of the Donbass, Ukraine remains on the front line of Russia’s aggression toward the West. Russia has interfered in every election since Ukraine’s independence—supporting pro-Kremlin candidates, propagating fake and misleading news, and more recently through cyberattacks that threaten the integrity of the election process. Unlike past elections in which the Kremlin actively sought to install a puppet through which to achieve its ends, Russia’s strategy this time is to sow enough doubt in the electoral process to challenge the legitimacy of the incoming president and corrode the Ukrainian public’s faith in the democratic process. An electoral process that fails to meet international standards for a free and fair contest would amount to an early Christmas present for Putin. If democracy succeeds in Ukraine, the Ukrainian people will have shown the world that it can succeed anywhere—even in Putin’s own backyard. That’s why he cares so much. As the damage wrought by Putin’s kleptocracy begins to manifest increasingly in the lives of everyday Russians who must cope with the fallout of state plunder and irresponsible policies, the risk of a successful neighboring democracy could inspire ordinary Russians to question the status quo. Despite Russia’s efforts, there are numerous encouraging signs pointing to the health of Ukraine’s young democracy. For the first time in years, no openly pro-Kremlin candidate is likely to win. The fact that pro-Russian candidates are not competitive indicates that the national consensus around Ukrainian sovereignty and pursuing a European path has solidified since the 2014 revolution. The actor Volodymyr Zelensky, who plays the role of president in the television drama Servant of the People, leads in the polls. His closest contenders are currently neck and neck, as former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko seeks to outmaneuver incumbent Petro Poroshenko to secure a second-place seat in a runoff scenario against Zelensky. Recent data indicates that Ukrainians are taking an active interest in the election. With a record number of candidates, the outcome is far from certain—a rarity in Eurasia that should be seen as something of a victory in itself. Moreover, the expected high turnout reflected in International Republican Institute polling is an encouraging sign of popular engagement with and faith in the democratic process. While their country continues to face persistent problems with corruption and daunting economic challenges, Ukrainians have made considerable progress in improving the quality of their democracy and defending their system against Russian interference. Transparency and accountability reforms at the local level are delivering concrete improvements from the bottom up, entrenching the practice and ethos of democracy throughout the country. Yet much remains to be done to secure a healthy democratic culture and to build a system that responds to the priorities of the Ukrainian people. Incumbent president Petro Poroshenko is perceived as falling short in the fight against corruption. The perceived failure to effectively address corruption has fueled public frustration with national elites and contributed to the rise of outsider candidates like Zelensky, who has no background in politics and whose rise to front-runner status has been fueled by widespread disillusionment with the status quo. Ultimately, the outcome of the election is not nearly as important as the quality of the electoral process itself. Without a contest that the Ukrainian people see as free and fair, the democratic gains made in the past five years will diminish, and commitment to democracy will slacken—playing into the Kremlin narrative that the Kiev government is unable to respond effectively to the needs of its people, and leaving Ukraine vulnerable to a renewed campaign of Russian interference. As a co-leader of one of the international election observation missions deployed this week to monitor the vote, I am proud to be part of the effort to support the Ukrainian people in this exercise in self-determination.

Ukrainians vote Sunday in presidential race led by comedian rumored to be Jewish | The Times of Israel

Volodymyr Zelensky, who plays a schoolteacher accidentally elected president in popular TV show, now leads veteran politicians Poroshenko and Tymoshenko

Ukraine Goes to the Polls on Sunday. Can Its Next President End the Frozen War With Russia?

As Ukraine’s presidential elections approach on March 31, ending the conflict and improving relations with Russia are key concerns

Ukraine gears up to hold tight presidential election | Ukraine News | Al Jazeera

Sunday’s poll will test the incumbent president for the first time since he came to power on a revolutionary wave.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine: Today is momentous day for democracy

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch hopes that Ukrainians will take advantage of their right to shape the nation’s future on March 31. — Ukrinform.

Widow of Sen. John McCain on Ukraine elections: Critical time in history of Ukrainian democracy – news politics | UNIAN

The widow of U.S. Senator John McCain, Cindy McCain, is among international observers who are now observing the presidential elections in Ukraine. Cindy McCain is observing the elections in Ukraine on behalf of the International Republican Institute (IRI). The widow of U.S. Senator John McCain, Cindy McCain, is among international observers who are now observing the presidential elections in Ukraine. She is representing the International Republican Institute (IRI). “It’s Election Day in Ukraine. It is a great honor to have the chance to observe the Ukraine election with IRI Global at such a critical time in the history of Ukrainian democracy,” she tweeted on March 31. All 1,103 polling stations are open in Kyiv. Yet, the police said, eight of them opened with a delay. Law and order in the capital is provided by about 6,000 police officers. Each polling station is guarded by at least two police officers Polling stations in Ukraine on March 31 opened at 08:00 Kyiv time and will work until 20:00, inclusively. A total of 199 constituencies have been created in Ukraine. The approximate number of polling stations, according to the CEC website, is 29,888. Some 101 polling stations are abroad. The CEC registered 2,344 observers from foreign and international organizations in the presidential elections. More than 135,000 law enforcement officers are involved in ensuring public order in Ukraine on election day. Ukrainians are voting for 37 out of the 39 candidates on the ballot, as two of the candidates announced withdrawal after the ballots were printed. According to the calendar plan for the presidential election, the CEC should establish the results of the voting by April 10. If none of the candidates receives over 50% of the vote on March 31, a run-off vote will be held on April 21 for the two front runners in the first round. In the event of the run-off, the CEC should officially announce the election results by May 1, 2019, and the inauguration of the newly elected president should take place by May 31. The new president should take office no later than 30 days after the announcement of the official election results.

Ukrainian voters speak ahead of key presidential poll | News | Al Jazeera

Before Ukraine’s presidential election on Sunday, voters speak to Al Jazeera about which way they will vote and why.

Meet 39 candidates running for president in Ukraine

Presidential elections in Ukraine are scheduled for March 31, 2019. The election campaign has officially started on December 31, 2018. Registration of the candidates was closed on February 4, 2019, and on February 9, the final list of presidential candidates has appeared. Ukraine’s CEC has registered 44 presidential candidates, but five of them have withdrawn in favor of the other candidates. Let us become better acquainted with the candidates, registered by the Central Election Commission.

Sham candidates: who are they and why do we need them

The number of registered candidates, running for the presidency in Ukraine, is increasing greatly. There are even more of those, who claimed they would run, but have not registered in the Central Election Commission of Ukraine yet. Not all of the candidates, however, are intended to win. So called “dummy candidates” are part of all elections, so they are likely to participate in the coming Ukrainian presidential elections as well. Who are those dummy candidates, why do we need them and how to identify them? Who are those dummy candidates? Dummy candidates are those who do not aim to win elections. That’s right, you can find such candidates in a ballot paper, who don’t even think about winning the elections. Nevertheless, they have another role to play. There are three types of dummy candidates. The first one is called spoilers. Spoilers gain votes from their running mates in one constituency. Spoilers have usually similar presidential programs to the ones front-runners have, they are more oriented on the target audience. Spoiler’s aim is to gain at least 2-3% of votes from the candidates, who are intended to win. Besides, spoilers often want to mislead electorate, for example, they use the same or similar surname or the name of the party as front-runners. The second type is called “torpedo “due to their behavior. Such candidates usually agitate not for themselves, but against someone else. It does not suit for the front-runners to flay and vilify other candidates or to spread rumors about them, this task belongs to the dummy candidates. They are very good at shouting, stomping loudly with their feet or, when needed, slamming the door.

Taras Revunets: Ukraine’s unholy alliances | KyivPost – Ukraine’s Global Voice

As Ukraine unchains itself from Russia religiously, unholy alliances in business and politics thrive as normal, without much international attention. But not without a heavy dose of Russian influence. Soured by the latest defense procurement scandal, the consolation prize of President Petro Poroshenko’s half-baked reform presidency (call it “nonlethal war on corruption”) couldn’t be more bittersweet. How’s so? Well, ask our legendary Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko (aka “Dr. Iron Fist”), who migrated from boxing to politics as a pro-construction ally of Poroshenko. Also, ask Ksenia Pavlovska, a Rivne Oblast assemblywoman who’s exploring construction business opportunities in Kyiv as an ally of presidential hopeful Yulia Tymoshenko. Finally, ask former Russian national (until 2015) Garik Korogodsky and active Russian national (reportedly) Aleksandr Melamud, the duo that has built a real estate empire in Kyiv over the last two decades. Did you know that the Leonid Kuchma regime signed off on their Globus mall at the Maidan to dislodge the 2000-2001 opposition protests there? The now-iconic “Ukrainian chick on a d**k” that rises above the mall (in Korogodsky’s architectural critique terms) epitomizes an era no less grotesque (he’s running for mayor). To be fair, they’re not the only Russians with a longstanding presence in town as Russia’s smoldering war of aggression against Ukraine enters its sixth year. So what’s with this somewhat odd but well-connected cast of characters, you may ask? At first glance, in times of war and razor-sharp electoral polarization, they and their tribal leaders may be at each other’s throats. Flip on the TV and watch them play mortal enemies and immortal visionaries every Shakespearean chance they get, which makes comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s lead in the race a bit redundant. Judging by the avalanche of lofty and feisty Ukrainian rhetoric that descended on Davos, Switzerland, this January, the battle for that coveted “Best Reformer” Oscar was hotter and bloodier than the borsch. But hey, back home in Ukraine, colder calculations prevail. When big money can be made, the big iron fists these ladies and gentlemen pack often give way to big iron fist bumps. If you’re looking for a sizzling hot example of how such forbidden romances flourish, look no further than the protest-plagued Kyiv City Council and its draconian security measures. No matter how fed up the electorate, how fragile its trust and how close the elections, many elected officials there can’t wait to fist-bump through a string of lucrative but not-so-legal and local-friendly construction projects. For more than a decade, bloody clashes have flared up all across Kyiv between developers’ private armies (aka titushki) moving in equipment and unconsenting locals defending beloved parks and lakes, with riot police often acting as bystanders. One such flash point may soon be coming to our overcrowded, pipe-bursting community in Kyiv’s Obolon district. Interestingly, in our case, Tymoshenko’s City Council members have repeatedly voted no, local public pressure being a factor. Apparently, no such pressure in the entire universe applies to their fellow partisan from Rivne Oblast, the expeditionary developer-assemblywoman. Could her galaxy be a million light years closer to Tymoshenko’s then ours?

Ukraine to buy Javelins from the United States, – Poroshenko

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko stated that Ukraine will buy the latest Javelin weapons from the United States. He said this in an interview to the ICTV and Ukrayina TV channels. “… the negotiations on the supply of Javelin anti-tank missile systems from the USA were being completed in the situational center of the Presidential Administration,” the report said. Earlier BBC apologized and agreed to pay the compensation to President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. The apology concerns “the incorrect material, which stated that Petro Poroshenko’s side paid money to continue meeting with Donald Trump” as BBC reported. This article was published in May 2017 but later it was deleted. The article stated that $400,000 were transferred to Michael Cohen, the lawyer of Donald Trump. This information was also announced at BBC TV program. Related: Elections in Slovakia: What Zuzana Čaputová’s victory means for Ukraine? According to TheBabel, BBC will compensate $209,872 to President Poroshenko. He promises to pass this money to the Ukrainian army as Poroshenko stated during the closed meeting with bloggers on March 26. Earlier British BBC reported citing its own sources that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen received the secret payment in the sum of $400,000 or $600,000 for the organization of the first meeting between Petro Poroshenko and Donald Trump in June 2017. BBC noted that it contacted Michael Cohen and two Ukrainian officials, who supposedly organized the payment. All of them denied that it took place. The Administration of the President of Ukraine demanded the retraction of the published information by BBC.

Poroshenko expects own victory in presidential vote in Ukraine (Photo, video) – news politics | UNIAN

Presidential candidate and incumbent President Petro Poroshenko says he expects own victory in the March 31 presidential vote in Ukraine. The incumbent president came to the polls with his family.

Poroshenko votes in presidential election, reaffirms need for Ukraine to return to family of European countries

Ukrainian presidential candidate and incumbent President Petro Poroshenko cast his ballot in the country’s presidential election in Kyiv on Sunday.

A TV Comedian Could Dominate Ukraine’s Election. That Is Not a Joke. – The New York Times

Voters crowded into polling stations in a presidential race in which a leading candidate was a 41-year-old who plays a president on television.

In Ukraine’s presidential race, an actor leads the field – YouTube

PBS NewsHour Published on Mar 30, 2019 Ukrainians are heading to the polls Sunday to select their next president. But in a tight race that has consumed a country after years of war with Russia, one candidate, a political newcomer known for parodying government corruption as an actor, has pundits worrying about his potential leadership. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Simon Ostrovsky reports with support from the Pulitzer Center.

Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy played a president on TV, now favorite in Ukraine’s real-life presidential election – ABC News

Volodymyr Zelenskiy leads polls ahead of the first-round vote on Sunday.

In Ukraine’s election, a comedian might win (Opinion) – CNN

Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy is an outsider, but he carries less baggage than incumbent Petro Poroshenko and oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko — and could become Ukraine’s next president, Michael Bociurkiw says.

Ukraine election: Comedian is front runner ahead of first round – BBC News

Petro Poroshenko is seeking re-election but the surprise front runner is comic Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Comedian in front as curtain rises on Ukrainian presidential election | Reuters

Ukrainians began voting in a presidential election on Sunday in which a comedian with no political experience and who plays a fictional president in a popular TV series is tipped to win the first round.

Clown or candidate? Ukraine presidential favourite keeps audience guessing – CNA

When is a presidential campaign not a presidential campaign? When it’s being fronted by Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian comedian who has a …

Anger over corruption puts Ukrainian comic on verge of winning presidency | CBC News

Practically every poll in the final days of the Ukrainian presidential election campaign suggests that a political novice with no electoral experience could finish with the most votes on Sunday.

Ukraine election: Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky expected to have the last laugh as Ukrainians go to the polls | World | The Times

The hint is heavy, even though campaigning today is officially banned: when a documentary about Ronald Reagan is shown on television in Ukraine this evening he will be voiced by Volodymyr Zelensky, the leading candidate in the presidential election tomorrow.It is no coincidence that the program

Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s fictional president within reach of real power | World | The Sunday Times

With only a few hours of campaigning left before today’s Ukrainian presidential election, Volodymyr Zelensky, the man topping the polls, has his supporters on their feet applauding.The dapper 41-year-old is not setting out his political programme, however, but rapping and dancing and appearing in co

Ukraine election: Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, who once played president, tops poll | World News | Sky News

Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky played a man who accidentally became Ukraine’s president in the 2015 series Servant Of The People.

Comedian Leads Presidential Polling in Ukraine

Ukrainians on Sunday will choose from among 39 candidates they hope can guide the country out of endemic corruption, a war with Russia-backed separatists and a struggling economy

Comic, Billionaire and Comeback Queen Vie for Ukraine Presidency – Bloomberg

Ukrainians will choose between a field of almost 40 candidates in Sunday’s presidential election, though in reality the contest has become a three-horse race.

Ukrainians go to the polls with comedian as favorite | News | DW | 31.03.2019

Ukrainians are voting for a president after a campaign in which an actor who has played a TV president has topped opinion polls. The eventual winner will face a range of challenges besetting the former Soviet republic.

In Ukraine’s presidential race, an actor leads the field | PBS NewsHour Weekend

Ukrainians are heading to the polls Sunday to select their next president. But in a tight race that has consumed a country after years of war with Russia, one candidate, a political newcomer known for parodying government corruption as an actor, has pundits worrying about his potential leadership. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Simon Ostrovsky reports with support from the Pulitzer Center.

Ukraine election 2019: Comedian Zelensky favored to win | DW News – YouTube

DW News Published on Mar 31, 2019 In Ukraine, voters are heading to the polls in the first round of a presidential election. The vote is being watched closely in the West and in Russia. Ukrainians have dozens of candidates to pick from, but polls indicate there are three frontrunners: President Petro Poroshenko, former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko and television comedian Volodymyr Zelensky. The last time Ukraine went to the polls in 2014, the country was in freefall. Russia had just invaded and annexed the Crimea region and pro-Russian separatists had seized control of part of the country’s east. So what are the issues foremost in Ukrainians’ minds five years on?

Putin perceives Ukraine’s success as his defeat and reacts inadequately – President — Official website of the President of Ukraine

“We have a war with Russia, I am telling this for those of the candidates who forgot or do not know that. And the war is not cold, and the conflict is not frozen. Almost every day we lose our heroes, every day there are shelling and wounded. And of course, in these circumstances, we must demonstrate responsible behavior. Each of our steps towards the EU is a defeat of Putin. Receiving the Tomos of autocephaly is a defeat of Putin. Our success in reforms, not only the creation of the Ukrainian army, not only the establishment of the Ukrainian language, not only decentralization, the reform of education and the new Ukrainian school, rural medicine, the healthcare reform of the first level, the reform of inclusive education – all this is Putin’s defeat. This is how he perceives every success of Ukraine,” President Petro Poroshenko answered the question about the threat of a full-scale war with Russia in an interview to Ukrainian TV channels. “Can we count on Putin’s adequate response? No. Because the illegal annexation of Crimea is Putin’s inadequate response. The beginning of aggression in Donbas is Putin’s inadequate response. The attack on our ships in the neutral waters of the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait is Putin’s inadequate response. The presence of divisions on our borders with Russia is Putin’s inadequate response, which could lead to an attack and large-scale aggression,” he added. The Head of State noted that the situation is now fundamentally different from the situation in 2014. Ukraine now has an army. “We began to build it not from scratch, but from a “minus”. And today, the price paid for this aggression is much bigger. The price paid by the aggressor. Today, Ukrainians and civilian population will defy the aggressor in case he tries to cross the Ukrainian-Russian border in any direction. I think that this information is also known by Putin. And because of this, the only guarantor of our independence, the only guarantor of sovereignty, territorial integrity of our state is not signed memorandums, not papers, but the Armed Forces and other power units,” the President emphasized.

There are no alternatives to the EU and NATO for Ukraine – President — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko stresses that Ukraine has no alternatives than full membership in the European Union and NATO. It was stated on Ukraine TV channel. “The European Union is a system of the rule of law, a system of protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens, including freedom of speech, free expression of will during the elections. First of all, it’s a standard of living. If you compare the standard of living in the EU countries and the standard of living in the countries of the so-called Russian zone of influence, take either Transnistria or occupied Donbas, occupied Crimea, Ossetia or Abkhazia. Today the difference is tenfold. Therefore, the movement towards the European Union will ensure the development of the individual, the development of the state and the corresponding standard of living and democracy,” Petro Poroshenko said. Commenting on the prospects of joining NATO, the President emphasized the importance of protecting the sovereignty and independence of the state. “NATO will soon be 70 years old. Over the past 70 years, we have not seen a single case that someone from the Alliance has been threatened by anyone. And after Russia has ruined the post-war security system, having occupied Crimea and Donbas, Ukraine has no alternatives to joining NATO,” the Head of State emphasized. At the same time, he emphasized that NATO was not only border security, not only peace and return of our boys home, but also security in the Ukrainian streets, reformed police, Security Service, National Guard, civilian control over the activities of the law enforcement agencies. “You can tell a lot of arguments to explain that there are no alternatives,” he added. The President recalled that, pursuant to his initiative, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine, which oblige all branches of government to prepare and ensure Ukraine’s compliance with the criteria for membership in the EU and NATO.

In two-three years, Ukraine can become an energy independent state – President — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President Petro Poroshenko during the broadcast on Ukraine TV channel said that Ukraine could become an energy independent state within two or three years. He emphasized the further strengthening of economic independence from the Russian Federation. “Remember, in two-three years, if our program of energy diversification and independence continues to be implemented, Ukraine will become an energy independent state. We are working on renewable energy sources. We increased the share of nuclear power, we increased the share of hydroelectric stations. And I firmly believe that this goal of energy independence will be realized in the next few years,” he noted. The President added: “In 2 years, if my programs on energy saving and energy efficiency are supported, if Ukraine increases the opportunity to diversify energy supply sources, we will not need either Russian or European imported gas. Our own production will allow us to cover both the needs of the population and the needs of our industry. And we will no longer have the issue of gas dependence of Ukraine, including on the Russian Federation, on the agenda”. The President reminded that in 2015, Ukraine had filed a lawsuit to the Stockholm Arbitration on the injustice of the contract with the Russian Federation and won $ 4.6 billion. “From these 4.6 billion Ukraine has received already 2 billion … The remaining $ 2.6 billion are the arrested assets of Gazprom in many countries of the world. Now these assets will be realised through the decision of the court. If Russia does not pay in the near future, we will receive money through the sale of the property of Gazprom,” he stressed.

Russia will pay for every Ukrainian life and compensate every kopeck of losses – President is confident of Ukraine’s success against Russia in the international courts — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko outlined the sequence of actions of the Ukrainian authorities in the international courts regarding Russia’s prosecution for the annexation of Crimea and occupation of Donbas. During the broadcast on Ukraine TV channel, the President stressed: “Crimea is Ukrainian, but occupied”. “You know that the program was developed and the law on the de-occupation of Donbas was adopted. Now, on the basis of the United Nations, the Crimea de-occupation platform was proposed to the world, which consists of a series of initiatives, starting with the sanctions introduced in March 2014 and related to the illegal annexation of Crimea. Sanctions that are related to the aggression against our state in the neutral waters of the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait, which the enemy tried to occupy,” the President said. He added that these initiatives also included claims to international courts, including the Commercial Arbitration and the UN Court, which will deal with various lawsuits of Ukraine, “from the violation of the rights of the Crimean Tatars to the violation of the investors’ rights.” “This is a clear and coordinated work. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for that pursuant to my instruction. The Government created a special department on the coordination of lawsuits and calculation of losses incurred by the Ukrainian state,” the President added. “The Accounting Chamber also assessed these losses present them to society. We are conducting the international audit of these losses. Russia will pay for every Ukrainian life and compensate every kopeck of losses,” the Head of State stressed. “We are currently meeting with our colleagues from Australia, Canada, Russia to clarify the requirements for Russia’s responsibility for the downfall of the MH17 aircraft,” the President summed up.

President: The war will end on the day when the last piece of Ukrainian land and the last prisoner of war is released — Official website of the President of Ukraine

“Remember – the war will end on the day when the last piece of Ukrainian land and the last prisoner of war is released,” President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko noted on Ukraine TV channel. The President drew attention to the events of the last few days: “Twenty-three Ukrainian patriots – twenty in Crimea and three in Rostov – were arrested in the last few days only because they are not afraid to call themselves Ukrainians”. “55 children were left without arrested parents and deprived of communication with them. This is a model of behavior that Russia is currently demonstrating in relation to Ukrainians living in the occupied territories,” he stressed. “That is why we will fight for the liberation of the Ukrainian land, we will fight for the release of the Ukrainian prisoners, we will fight and do everything that depends on us to bring peace as soon as possible. Peace, not capitulation,” the President noted.

Today we prayed for the unity and wisdom of the Ukrainian people – President about the joint prayer with the leaders of the churches of Ukraine — Official website of the President of Ukraine

“It is a great pleasure that today thousands of people have gathered here on Volodymyr’s Hill together with the leaders of the churches of Ukraine, members of the Nationwide Council of Churches and Religious Organizations,” President Petro Poroshenko said at the end of the prayer. The Head of State said: “It was decided to conduct a prayer for Ukraine today on the “day of silence”. For the wisdom of the Ukrainian people, for the will of God, for God to help Ukraine defend its independence”. He emphasized the importance of the key request of today’s prayer – the unity of all churches, the unity of the state, the unity of the people and the unity of the nation. “You heard that today we also prayed for our soldiers who gave their lives for the Ukrainian land, for our freedom. And we prayed for wisdom – the wisdom of the people, which tomorrow will determine the future of Ukraine,” Petro Poroshenko said. “I firmly believe that the Lord will hear our prayers. The Lord will save Ukraine. The Lord will preserve our unity,” the Head of State emphasized. “Today, most of the leaders of the churches have been calling for the elections to be held calmly tomorrow. And for us it is extremely important to ensure fair and free elections. To protect and preserve the expression of will of the citizens, the Ukrainian people. And I am firmly convinced that it will be so,” the President emphasized and noted that he had prayed for it.

Head of State and his wife prayed for the preservation of Ukraine’s unity — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko together with his wife Maryna Poroshenko took part in the prayer event “God, give us unity”. The joint prayer was conducted in Kyiv near the monument to Prince Volodymyr the Great. The prayers was carried out by Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Epifaniy. Prayers were also conducted by the leaders and representatives of churches and religious organizations. Members of the Nationwide Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, people’s deputies of Ukraine and representatives of the public also took part in the event.

We will be able to ensure the implementation of the Minsk agreements and banish Russian troops from the occupied territories – President — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President Petro Poroshenko stresses that the issue of peace in Ukraine will be the most important after the end of the elections for the highest office in the state. On Ukraine TV channel, the Head of State said that the settlement of the situation in the country would be the first step after the presidential elections. “The most important thing is to establish peace,” Petro Poroshenko said. He reminded that the key to peace is not in Kyiv, not in Brussels or Washington. “It is in Moscow. But we will be able to make a decision on the introduction of the Blue Helmets in Donbas. Today, we will be able to ensure the implementation of the Minsk agreements and banish Russian troops from the occupied territories, ensure the withdrawal of heavy artillery, disarmament of illegal armed units, transfer of the uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian border under Ukraine’s control,” the President emphasized. “No one in the world wants peace more than Ukrainians. No one in the world wants peace more than the President of Ukraine. And today, taking advantage of the strong support of the world, we will definitely ensure peace in the territory of Ukraine, the liberation of the territory of Ukraine from occupation and the return of Ukrainian sovereignty to the occupied territories,” the Head of State emphasized.

President about distribution of lies against him on 1+1 TV channel: The key motive of the owner of the channel is to take revenge on the state — Official website of the President of Ukraine

“My opponents have been pouring rivers of shameless lies on me over the past weeks. The main tool of spreading lies in recent months is unfortunately 1+1 TV channel. This TV channel has turned into a humble executor of his owner’s political orders. Although he fled abroad, he plays several figures at the election political checkerboard. The figures are called Z1 and Y2,” President Petro Poroshenko noted during his conversation with Lviv residents. “His motive is to take revenge on the state,” the President emphasized. “For at the end of 2016, in order not to eliminate the bank and affect twenty million depositors, the Government of Ukraine was obliged to nationalize PrivatBank and ensure its effective and reliable functioning in order to save money of almost twenty million depositors from the fraud of the owners when they had already withdrawn all the money from the bank,” the Head of State reminded. According to him: “This caused the information warfare unleashed against the state by the owner of 1+1 TV channel. They are even not ashamed of duplicating the whole pieces of fake news from Russian TV channels. They simply rewrite and retransmit. The only thing they do is translate them into Ukrainian”. “No matter what the workers of this channel intimidated by Kolomoyskyi tell about me, you should know: it has nothing in common with the truth and honest journalism. But it will not stop me. We will not allow the revenge,” the Head of State emphasized.

Alex Kokcharov on Twitter: “Map showing #turnout by region in today’s #Ukraine’s presidential election at 15:00. Markedly lower figures in western regions, potentially damaging result for the incumbent President Poroshenko:… https://t.co/WQMLQ7cWuN”

No systemic violations evident during presidential election in Ukraine – CEC

Ukraine’s Central Election Commission (CEC) has said that as of 16:30 on Sunday no systemic violations during voting in the presidential elections has been established. “No systemic violations during voting have been established. There are isolated instances, but they are classic for any voting process in any election campaign,” CEC Secretary Natalia Bernatska told journalists at around 16:30 on Sunday. She said there have been isolated instances of photographing ballot papers and transporting people to voting stations, “but in general the elections are being held in the standard way.” Bernatska predicted originals of voting tallies will start arriving at the CEC around lunchtime on Monday, April 1. She said the CEC by law has 10 days to determine the results of the election. “But we hope it will take us less time this year,” she added. Ukraine is holding the first round of its presidential election on Sunday. The polling stations will close at 20:00. A record-large number of candidates – 39 – are running in this presidential election.

No systemic irregularities in Ukraine’s presidential election – CEC

No systemic irregularities have been recorded during the voting in Ukraine’s presidential election, Secretary of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Natalia Bernatska has said. — Ukrinform.

Elections 2019: Security Service SWAT begins to patrol streets of Ukraine

Soldiers of the Unit “A” Special Forces began patrolling streets, train stations, bus stations and airports throughout Ukraine. This was reported in the Security Service of Ukraine press center. “The state order and the peace of citizens of Ukraine are important elements for ensuring the proper electoral process. Our special forces, which defended Ukraine from the first minutes of the operation in Donbas, understand this very well. We also used combat vehicles and unmanned aircraft for patrolling. All of this is a demonstration of our determination to immediately stop any possible provocations in order to destabilize the situation in Ukraine”, said the head of the Security Service Vasyl Grytsak. He expressed confidence that “elections in Ukraine will be held in a civilized and calm manner.” “The Security Service of Ukraine, within its competence, is doing everything necessary for this,” noted Grytsak.

Facebook reminds Ukrainians about presidential elections

The social network suggests to get the information of elections or to mark whether you have already voted

Live Blog: Ukraine Votes

Follow all of the latest developments as they happen.

Ukrainian 2019 presidential elections: Live updates |Euromaidan Press |

Today on 31 March Ukraine elects its President. The record-long ballot paper lists 39 candidates, though according to the opinion polls the top three candidates are incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyi. 34,544,993 people are eligible to vote in the elections, however, about 12% – most of the voters who reside in the Russia-occupied territories of Crimea and parts of the East-Ukrainian Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts – won’t be able to participate in the elections. The Central Electoral Commission has registered a record number of 139 Ukrainian non-governmental organizations as observers. Plus, a total of 2,344 international observers from 17 countries and 19 organizations are also monitoring the electoral process today. The voting has started at 08:00 and will last until 20:00.

Russian border guards stop Ukrainians coming from annexed Crimea to mainland

The number of the citizens, who cross the administrative border with occupied Crimea, has decreased in comparison with last week. Moreover, the Russian border guards stop citizens and ask the purpose of their visit to the mainland as Interior Ministry reported citing Oleg Slobodyan, the Spokesperson of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. “We got the information that the border guards of the state-occupant stop the Ukrainians, who aim to the mainland and ask the purpose of their visit. We do not have information whether they returned someone, who said that the purpose is voting but we can suppose that they do not allow to vote,” Slobodyan said. He emphasized that all detachment work as usually; the guard of the border is enhanced. Totally, 7,000 of the personnel work today. 1,300 people stay in the reserve. The maritime forces guard the maritime boundaries. A few boat and ship groups guard the sea coasts of the Black and Azov Seas. The personnel, who serve at Snake Island also can vote. “Considering the tendencies of the crossing of the border or the demarcation line, there is significant increase of people, who cross the border, administrative border or the demarcation line. In the Joint Forces Operation zone we observe the decrease of the passenger traffic by 1,5-2 times in comparison with the last week,” he noted.

Ukrainians living in ORDLO come to vote in presidential elections in Ukraine despite pressure of LPR/DPR – Ombudsman

Residents of the territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions that are not controlled by the government of Ukraine (ORDLO) take part in voting in the presidential elections in Ukraine despite pressure exerted on them by the so-called LPR/DPR, the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights has said.

CEC: Voter turnout as of 15:00 is 44.36 percent

As of 15:00, the voter turnout in the presidential elections in the territory of Ukraine was 44.36 percent. — Ukrinform.

Voter turnout update on Ukraine Election Day: 44.36% as of 15:00 Kyiv time – news ukraine | UNIAN

Forty-six Ukrainian constituencies have submitted their reports as of 15:00 Kyiv time on March 31, according to which there was a 44.36% turnout of voters on Ukraine’s Election Day. The data is based on reports from 46 out of 200 constituencies. Forty-six Ukrainian constituencies have submitted their reports as of 15:00 Kyiv time on March 31, according to which there was a 44.36% turnout of voters on Ukraine’s Election Day. This information was posted on the website of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission. The regional turnout split is the following: 41.12% in Vinnytsia region(constituencies 11-18), no data from Volyn region (19-23), 48.52% in Dnipropetrovsk (24-40), 44.16% in Donetsk region (41-61), 46.31% in Zhytomyr region (62-67), 24.77% in Zakarpattia (68-73), 48.35% in Zaporizhia region (74-82), 31.81% in Ivano-Frankivsk region (83-89), 46.27% in Kyiv region (90-98). There is no information about the turnout in Kirovograd region (constituencies 99-103), Mykolaiv region (127-132), Rivne region (152-156), Kherson region (182-186), while the turnover in Luhansk region (104-114) was 43.90%, while it was 37.92% in Lviv region (115-126), 45.33% in Odesa region (133-143), 47.54% in Poltava region (144-151). There is a 47.26% turnout of voters in Sumy regions (constituencies 157- 62), 40.88% in Ternopil region (163-167), 44.61% in Kharkiv region (168-181). Khmelnytsky region (constituencies 187-193) reported a 50.25% turnout, Cherkasy region (194-200) 46.76%, Chernivtsi region (201-204) 38.86%, Chernihiv (205-210) 47.01%. A turnout of voters in the city of Kyiv (constituencies 211-223) was 46.48%.

Voting in Ukraine’s presidential election in Australia closes with 7.2% voter turnout – CEC

Voting in the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election has closed at the polling station in Australia (Canberra). Some 125 Ukrainians of 1,737 in voter lists, cast ballots, Ukraine’s Central Election Committee (CEC) said.

Voting in Ukraine’s presidential elections kick off in United States. Photos

The voting stations in Washington D.C. and New York have opened for voting in the presidential elections in Ukraine for the citizens, who reside or temporarily stay in the United States, Antigua and Barbuda and Trinidad and Tobago. — Ukrinform.

Huge queues of Ukrainian voters in Polish cities

The increasing activity is observed at the polling station at Ukraine’s Embassy in Warsaw. A huge line appeared near the department, as 112 Ukraine reported citing Poman Sosnovsky, the Chairman of the polling station in Poland. “The only problem is the big activity of the voters; we will try to allow everyone to vote. They are very active, even the workers of the embassy-consulate are surprised as they experienced a lot of elections. The line outside is long, and we try to do everything faster, but there is a particular capacity of the polling station,” Sosnovsky noted. According to him, the majority of the voters is youth. “I have heard that the youth does not vote much but we, instead, but 70% of the voters and even more are young people; the youth is very active,” he noted. Besides, the Ukrainians spread the photos of this line on social media. Almost 17,000 voters are registered at the polling station in Warsaw, Poland.

One of largest polling stations of Ukraine abroad is in Prague, about 21,200 voters registered there – media

About 21,200 voters will be able to vote in the presidential elections of Ukraine in Prague (the Czech Republic), Pryamiy TV Channel has said, with reference to a Radio Svoboda journalist. According to the channel, a huge number of Ukrainians want to vote in Prague, and the queue stretched for almost 300 meters. Almost 21,200 voters are registered here – this is one of the largest polling stations of Ukraine abroad. About 5,000 voters are registered at the polling station in Brno. Some 110,000 Ukrainians live and work in the Czech Republic – the largest national community in the country.

Voting in presidential elections of Ukraine completed at Akademik Vernadsky Antarctic station

Voting at the presidential elections of Ukraine has ended at a polling station at the Ukrainian Antarctic station Akademik Vernadsky, 34 people voted, according to the National Antarctic Research Center.

Simon Ostrovsky on Twitter: “Think the Democratic 2020 field is crowded? This is the ballot in the presidential election in Ukraine today. 39 candidates.… https://t.co/Qs55AOos6d”

 

The voice of the front line. How is the army voting – photo-report of Radio Liberty March 31, 2019, 13:22

Andriy Dubchak, Anastasia Mazazova The Ukrainian military chooses a commander-in-chief on a field polling station ….

Elections-2019: Ukrainian frontline servicemen vote first, while others defend front in Donbas

The frontline soldiers of the Joint Forces operation were the first to vote in the Donbas conflict zone, while their comrades were guarding the front and changing in turns. The press service of the JFO (HQ) reports this on Facebook. According to the report, the voting began at 8:00 AM and will last till 8:00 PM. The servicemen are voting at the polling stations, which were created by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

Soldiers Vote in Donetsk | Генеральний штаб ЗСУ / General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – Posts

The servicemen of the units and parts of the united forces exercise their civil rights during the election of the President of Ukraine # OOS # Operation_O At eight o’clock in the morning at the special polling stations in the area of the operation of the Joint Force, the voting process continues. The personnel of units and units of the Joint Forces are actively involved in the election process. As at 11 o’clock in separate polling stations, over 20% of the voters in their uniforms made their choice. Moving on! Together we will win!

Hromadske.UA on Twitter: “At the polling station in the front line of Schastye in Luhansk, the strictest independent observer… “

 

Candidates Vote In Ukrainian Election

Candidates cast their ballots in Ukraine’s presidential election. President Petro Poroshenko cast his vote in Kyiv, as did challengers Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Yulia Tymoshenko.

Right Place, Right Time? Watching Ukraine’s Election With Its Far-Right Monitors

His canary-yellow-and-black lanyard identifies Yuriy Petrenko as a member of a paramilitary force with a penchant for urban camouflage, facemasks, and violence to advance an ultranationalist agenda…

Russian journalists denied access to polling station in Minsk

Russian journalists have been denied access to a polling station in Minsk where Ukrainians vote in Ukraine’s presidential election, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. — Ukrinform.

Russian journalists banned from Ukraine polling place in Belarus – news world | UNIAN

Members of the election commission in the capital of Belarus, Minsk, have decided not to let members of the Russian media in at the polling station set up in the Ukrainian Embassy’s building. Ukrainian Ambassador to Belarus Ihor Kizim expects a high turnout of voters on Ukraine’s March 31 Election Day.

Presidential elections under way in Ukraine (Photos) – news politics | UNIAN

Presidential elections are under way in Ukraine on Sunday, March 31. If none of the candidates receives over 50% of the vote on March 31, a run-off vote will be held on April 21 for the two front runners in the first round.

I am confident, Ukraine will win – Petro Poroshenko voted at the elections of the President of Ukraine — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko together with his big family took part in the voting at the elections of the Head of State. Petro Poroshenko voted at the polling station in the House of Officers in Kyiv. Petro Poroshenko said that today he voted for the future of our country and its further progress on the path to the European Union. “I voted for Ukraine today, just as my entire family and the absolute majority of Ukrainians,” the President said. Petro Poroshenko stressed the importance of today’s elections. The Head of State stressed that “this is an extremely important historic vote for the non-return to the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire”. “That is why it is extremely important for Ukraine. We have invited an unprecedented number of international observers and a huge number of international media that you see. I am absolutely convinced that Ukraine will win,” the President said. “Today, I am confident that the elections were well organized. The expression of will of the citizens will be preserved. This is an absolute condition for our movement forward. Forward, to return Ukraine to the family of European nations. Forward to our membership in the European Union and NATO. To the continuation of extremely important reforms that are absolutely vital for Ukraine. That is why these elections are so important,” the Head of State emphasized.

Yulia Tymoshenko, Volodymyr Zelensky vote in elections. Photos, video

Presidential candidate and Batkivshchyna Party leader Yulia Tymoshenko has voted at the polling station in the Kyiv Lyceum “Podil”. — Ukrinform.

Yulia Tymoshenko comes to “vote for Ukraine” (Photo) – news politics | UNIAN

Batkivshchyna Party leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who is one of the three leading presidential candidates, according to recent polls, has cast her ballot paper on Ukraine’s March 31 Election Day. Tymoshenko’s husband mentioned Zuzana Čaputová, the first woman elected to the presidency of Slovakia.

Cyberattacks cannot influence results of Ukrainians’ will – CEC

No cyberattacks on the information systems of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission (CEC) will affect the results of voting in the presidential election as they will be established on the basis of paper protocols, CEC Secretary Natalia Bernatska has said. “There was very systematic preparation for the protection of all of our electronic systems, equipment was upgraded, and we can confidently say that we are ready for any cyberattacks. At the moment, we feel heavy load on the CEC website, some information is not updated as fast as we would like it to be updated but in any case, the results of the voting are in no way dependent and cannot be influenced by any cyberattack. The Central Election Commission establishes them [election results] on the basis of physical protocols delivered by members of district election commissions,” Bernatska said. According to her, it can be stated now that no negative predictions have yet proved true. The presidential election is underway in Ukraine on March 31. There are 39 candidates in a ballot paper.

Over 135,000 law enforcers guard Ukrainians on election’s day

“The election marathon has already begun and 135,400 workers of the Interior Ministry take care of your security. If you have some problems, you should appeal to the people in the uniform. They will definitely help,” the message said. Earlier, the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine supposed that the Russian special service prepares the number of the provocations at the polling stations: the influence of the labor migrants, large-scale cyber attacks on the servers of the Central Election Commission and district election commissions of Ukraine. The Ukrainian law enforcers have switched to the enhanced regime of work.

More than 260 police officers guarding polling stations in Donbas – Interior Ministry

More than 260 police officers provide security at polling stations on the disengagement line in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the Interior Ministry of Ukraine reported on Facebook.

Ukraine presidential vote begins under bribe claim cloud – ABC News

Voters in Ukraine are casting ballots in a presidential election Sunday after a campaign that produced a comedian with no political experience as the front-runner and allegations of voter bribery

Ukraine’s candidates push limits of ‘quiet day’ before polls open | World news | The Guardian

Country bans campaigning on day before an election, but candidates find ways around rule

Police say Liashko’s actions violate ballot secrecy

Police have qualified the actions of presidential candidate and Radical Party leader Oleh Liashko, who demonstrated his ballot after voting, as a “violation of the secrecy of the vote.” Ukrainian prosecutors will determine whether or not to pursue the case, Interior Ministry Communication’s Department chief Artem Shevchenko has said.

Police open 8 criminal proceedings into violations in presidential election, all polling stations operating – Interior Ministry

Police have opened eight criminal proceedings connected to voting violations in Ukraine’s presidential election, Interior Ministry Communications Department chief Artem Shevchenko has said.

Police mulling hooliganism charges against man detained in Chernihiv for trying to set polling station on fire – Interior Ministry

The man who tried to set fire to the voting booth at one of the polling stations in Borzna, Chernihiv region, was detained and taken to the police station, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry has said.

Zelensky’s campaign staff says has received 1,500 complaints about violations, including ‘dead souls’, pressure on monitors

The call center of Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky’s campaign staff has already received more than 1,500 reports about irregularities.

As of 16:00 on Sunday police receive 950 reports of voting violations – Interior Ministry

As of 16:00 on Sunday, Ukraine’s National Police had received 950 statements and reports of violations during the regular presidential elections, the press service of the Interior Ministry has said.

Police checking 8 reports of bomb at Dnipro polling stations, in metro, threats unsubstantiated – National Police spokesman

Police in Dnipro, Dnipropetrovsk region, are checking eight reports that bombs have been placed at polling stations in the city. No explosive objects have been found in the city’s metro, National Police Spokesman Yaroslav Trakalo has said.

Violations identified by Poroshenko team observers not affecting voting – campaign headquarters

Violations registered by observers from the election headquarters of presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko do not affect the voting at the presidential elections in Ukraine, the candidate’s headquarters reported. “So far, these violations do not affect the voting. And they do not distort its results,” member of Poroshenko’s election headquarters MP Serhiy Alekseyev said at a briefing in Kyiv on Sunday. According to him, observers report such violations as campaigning near the premises of a polling station in Kamianske, Dnipropetrovsk region, buses “with people from Kyiv” going to Vasylkiv district of Kyiv region, which were blocked by the police. Observers from one of the candidates have branded badges, which can be viewed as hidden campaigning, Alekseyev said. Meanwhile, another member of Poroshenko’s election headquarters MP Maksym Savrasov said that 30,000 observers and 30,000 members of election commissions from Poroshenko’s team are working at polling stations on Sunday. “There are observers and members of the commissions from the Petro Poroshenko Block at all polling stations in the country,” Savrasov added.

Ukrainians complain to human rights commissioner about dissemination of election campaigning materials ‘on day of silence’

Ukrainian citizens are complaining on the human rights commissioner’s hotline about the dissemination of election campaigning materials in the media and on the Internet on Saturday, which is “the day of silence” before the presidential election.

Ukrainian police receive 159 reports of election law violations so far on ‘silence day’ – Interior ministry

Police in Ukraine have so far received 159 reports of election law violation on the “silence day,” the eve of the presidential election, half of them involve illegal campaigning, First Deputy Interior Minister Serhiy Yarovy said on Saturday.

Almost 300 reports of polling violations received by 12:00 on Sunday, 3 cases opened – Interior Ministry

By 12.00 on Sunday, March 31, 2019, police had opened three criminal cases connected with violations on the day of voting in the first round of presidential elections, the Interior Ministry has said.

Central Election Commission ready to respond to Russia’s meddling in elections

The Central Election Commission of Ukraine is ready on a moral and a technical level to respond to possible cyber interference of the Russian Federation in the Ukrainian information system “Elections.” — Ukrinform.

Over 6,000 Ukrainians not to vote in presidential elections, – Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Over 6050 citizens of Ukraine, who are serving their punishments in foreign penal institutions, will not be able to vote in presidential elections. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine stated as RBK-Ukraine reported. “According to the information provided by the Department of Consular Service of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the number of citizens of Ukraine serving their sentence abroad is 6050 people on December 2018”, – the report said.

Russian trolls target Ukraine’s election on Sunday | Ukraine News | Al Jazeera

Russian interference in Ukraine’s presidential election is less of a concern than an expectation.

Russian interference in Ukrainian elections: separating the wheat from the chaff |Euromaidan Press |

It’s still unclear who will make it to the second round on 31 March and who has the best chances of winning Ukraine’s presidential election. Comic actor Zelenskyi is the most popular candidate, while Tymoshenko and Poroshenko have equal chances of making it to the second round. Yet, since early January debates have raged about possible Russian interference into Ukrainian elections, as well as about candidates whom Russia would or wouldn’t support. Now, a few days are left until election day, 31 March, and it’s time to sum up whether there have been any cases of real Russian interference, or if these were only rumors. The answer is yes, but usually, Russia interfered indirectly, relying on the real support of pro-Russian political forces in Ukraine.

The ultimate guide to how Ukrainian elections could be falsified |Euromaidan Press |

”So dirty, so cruel, with such massive falsifications and bribes…there was no such election campaign yet,” Viktor Medvedchuk, Putin’s relative and Ukrainian oligarch said. Is it true? Amid the hysteria of Russian media about mass manipulations and the illegitimacy of Ukrainian elections—echoed by Ukrainian media—it’s important to know the real risks for manipulations in the Ukrainian elections, and whether they can influence the results dramatically. The fact that the objective of Russian propaganda is to delegitimize the Ukrainian presidential elections was already evident a month ago. And the proof— messages and political statements in the Russian media, as described in a previous article on Euromaidan Press.

“Ukraine will turn into a banana republic”: Ukrainian elections on Russian TV |Euromaidan Press |

Ukraine experienced the impact of Russian hybrid warfare and pro-Kremlin disinformation earlier than most other states. The Kremlin has long used Ukraine as a testing ground for its (dis)information and hybrid operations, refining techniques that it would later apply in Europe and the US. Its election interference efforts are no exception. Ukrainian presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019 will take place in the context of conventional and hybrid aggression from the Russian side. Thus, the ongoing disinformation campaign ahead of the Ukrainian vote is both an attempt to interfere in Ukraine’s democracy and an extension of hybrid warfare against its sovereignty. It is a stark illustration for all Europeans, that Russia’s attempts at election interference cannot be seen in isolation from the Kremlin’s long-term geopolitical strategies and malign activities beyond its borders. Negative messaging about Ukraine’s elections is ever-present in the Russian state media, with a blatant focus on undermining the legitimacy of the electoral process and its results. It is an opportunity for the Kremlin to further denigrate Ukraine’s statehood and geopolitical course, to justify Russia’s policy towards Ukraine in the eyes of Russian citizens, and to tarnish Ukraine’s international image in the hope of weakening Western support. Crucially, such reporting also drives broader narratives that are aimed at Russian audiences as much as foreign ones; namely, that Russia is surrounded by enemies, that a popular vote is meaningless, and that political change can only bring failure.

The hidden 40th candidate? Ukrainian presidential campaign is largely about Vladimir Putin — RT World News

Ukrainians will choose from 39 candidates this Sunday, but one name has received a huge amount of attention despite not being on the ballot – Vladimir Putin. The contenders seem to be unable to stop talking about him.

Russian Lawmaker Says Activists Warn of Presidential Election Fraud in Ukraine – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Leonid Slutsky, the chair of the Russian parliament’s international affairs committee, cited unnamed civic activists on Saturday who warned of plots to rig the election in Ukraine.

Things to Know About Ukraine Election Frontrunner, Comic Volodymyr Zelenskiy – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Volodymyr Zelenskiy, famous Ukrainian comedian and actor, is leading in the Ukrainian presidential race, according to recent polls.

Ukrainians Feel Deceived, Disappointed by ‘Maidan Revolution’ – US Scholar – Sputnik International

The people of Ukraine will take to the ballot box on Sunday for a presidential election in which Petro Poroshenko is battling to retain power. Leading in the polls, however, is none other than TV comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, running on an anti-oligarch platform.

Paul Goble | Kyiv says 506 parishes have shifted from Moscow Church; Moscow claims only 61 have | Euromaidan Press |

Since the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) was formed and granted autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople last year, both it and the Moscow Patriarchate’s exarchate in Ukraine agree that a number of churches have shifted their allegiance from the Moscow church to the Ukrainian one. But they disagree as to how many. A month ago, the OCU said that 340 parishes had shifted their allegiance, while the Moscow Church said only 36 had. Now Moscow acknowledges that the number which have shifted has increased to 61; but the OCU says that 506 have done so. The Ukrainian figures are almost certainly closer to the mark – too many journalists are checking these reports for them to be off by as much as Moscow claims – and that means that four months into the process, one of every 24 churches formerly subordinate to Moscow in Ukraine is now part of the autocephalous church. Given the enormous share of the Moscow Patriarchate’s churches located in Ukraine, and given Moscow’s desire to muddy the waters so that no one will be certain as to exactly how fast this process is going, journalists in the name of “objectivity” will always cite the Moscow figures along with the Kyiv ones.” The Russian church has every reason to understate the numbers. That will become even more the case when the number shifting from Moscow to Kyiv has reached a tipping point in the regions. When a certain critical number of churches has changed allegiance, others follow at a rapid rate – and that tipping point is now within reach in many but not yet all of Ukraine’s oblasts. As a result, it is important to keep track of these developments on the two competing maps, not because the Moscow figures are accurate but because they will be used by the Russian government to try to effectively undercut Ukraine given that Moscow recognizes that most of the Western journalists who cover Ukraine do so from Moscow rather than Kyiv. The Ukrainian map of parishes that changed their allegiance from the Moscow Patriarchate to the OCU is at google.com/maps. The Russian one is at google.com/maps.