Moscow has said — with some reservations — Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Ukraine were valid.
Moscow hopes the new government in Kyiv will launch national dialogue in line with recent agreements to calm armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Far right parties have not performed well. Exit polls and partial results indicated that most of the groups that were holding up democratic and legal reforms demanded by the European Union could be swept out of parliament, and that pro-Western parties will dominate.
In an early reaction to the vote, Russia’s foreign ministry said the election offered a chance for peace but that a high number of “nationalists” in the chamber could undermine the process.
Pro-Russia separatists in the east said they were ignoring the election and still planned to go ahead with a rival vote. They may still look to the Kremlin for support, even though President Petro Poroshenko claims a strong mandate to govern.
Moscow, however, did stress the urgency of social and economic problems and the crucial need to implement the Minsk agreements which are still being violated, as well as ‘priority attention for humanitarian problems in the Donbass region’.
For a view from the Russian capital, Andrei Belkevich spoke with Alexei Pouchkov, President of the Russian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
Andrei Belkevich, euronews: “Moscow is following the Ukrainian parliamentary election results closely. Mr Pouchkov, how far can we consider this vote fair and democratic? Does Moscow consider it legitimate?”
Alexei Pouchkov, President of Russian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee: “Moscow does recognise this vote. As for its fair and democratic character, I personally have serious reservations. I consider that under the conditions of continuing combat, even limited, in the east of Ukraine, given that a substantial part of the population there couldn’t take part in this vote, the elections did not take in the whole country’s electorate. Apart from that, we all know the climate in which they took place — when the parliamentarians suspected of protecting the interests of the old government were thrown in the rubbish, what hysteria blew up around the Communist Party, how that prevented the Party of Regions from proposing its candidates for the elections… So, to me these elections haven’t been democratic.”
euronews: “For the first time, the Rada will not have MPs from the Party of Regions or the Communist Party, formations that were considered as pro-Russian. In these conditions, how does Moscow count on building relations with Kyiv?”
Pouchkov: “I don’t consider the Party of Regions and the Communist Party as pro-Russian. I believe they really were pro-Ukrainian parties, but their absence in parliament will reduce the parliamentary field of representation. Note also that 47 percent of the voters did not go to vote. That also says a lot. People didn’t know who to vote for among the parties present, which only presented nationalist platforms. People simply didn’t see their candidates. Let’s not forget that. As for the present composition of the Rada, it goes from ultra-nationalist to simply nationalist. How is Russia going to build relations? I think the question has to be put to Ukraine again. How does Ukraine count on building its relations with Russia? In my opinion, Ukraine today largely depends on normal commercial and economic relations with Russia a lot more than Russia [vice versa]. Therefore, it’s up to Kyiv, and in that case things will become clearer to us, how things are going to be built.”
euronews: “About the composition of the Rada, parties such as Svoboda and Right Sector aren’t getting into parliament, according to data so far. Does that mean the threat of radical nationalism in Ukraine has been overestimated?”
Pouchkov: “In my opinion, this threat has not been overestimated, since radical nationalism impregnates other parties, notably the Popular Front of Yatseniuk. The Radical Party of Lyachko also represents radical nationalism, and if you count up all the voices behind the radical nationalists, that is the party of Lyachko, Svoboda and Right Sector, you’ll see it represents some 15 percent, and that is a more than significant number. Apart from that, these national-radical opinions come out in Ukraine’s practice of politics, in the form of reprisals against dissenting voices, the practice of political terror which was applied against the Communists. Therefore, no, I don’t believe that the threat was overestimated. I think the radical nationalist factor does play a role — unfortunately, a considerable role.”