Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has explained the reason behind Ukraine's recent decision to close down five of the country's foreign polling stations earlier set up at diplomatic institutions in the Russian territory.
“The main motive explaining the closure of polling stations in Russia is, of course, security," the minister wrote in an oped for the Ukrayinska Pravda e-zine.
"And it’s not even about such things as possible infiltration of election commissions by FSB agents, their influence on them, and much more. Above all, we are concerned about the safety of Ukrainian citizens who, despite administrative and propaganda pressure, still decide to become members of election commissions or simply report to the polls," wrote Klimkin.
In his opinion, "there is no doubt that all those who will take part in the voting will surely end up under the FSB scrutiny, risking to shortly become victims of repression."
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Klimkin recalled that dozens of Ukrainian political prisoners and prisoners of war had already been thrown behind bars across Russia on trumped-up charges.
The foreign minister has also noted that there are more than 2.5 million Ukrainian citizens staying in Russia at the moment.
"Whatever the motives of their stay in the territory of the aggressor state, we are concerned about them," said Klimkin.
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In addition, he cited data on the turnout in the previous presidential elections, where the number of Ukrainians who participated in the voting there was small.
"Please note that in the extraordinary presidential elections of 2014, a total of 49,418 people had been put on voter lists, with only 1,134 of them actually voting," Klimkin said.
The Foreign Minister added that Ukrainians, who are staying in Russia temporarily, will be able to vote in Ukraine at their place of permanent residence. They only need to make sure that they are included in the voter lists.
"Those who live in Russia permanently will have the opportunity to vote in the embassies of Ukraine in Georgia, Finland, and Kazakhstan. Detailed instructions regarding the protocol can be found on the websites of our diplomatic missions," Klimkin said.
Read alsoRussian media aim to destabilize Ukraine ahead of elections"We believe that holding free and fair elections on the territory of the aggressor state is impossible and devoid of political and legal sense, while for those who decide to take part, it is simply dangerous," the minister stressed.
As reported earlier, on December 27, 2018, the Central Election Commission liquidated five foreign polling stations established at Ukrainian diplomatic missions in the Russian Federation.
At the same time, the CEC expanded the coverage of polling stations set up at the embassies of Ukraine in Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Finland, to allow Ukrainian citizens registered with the liquidated stations to cast their ballot.