May 27 — The U.S.-backed junta of neoliberal politicians, oligarchs and fascists, which came to power in a coup against the elected government of Ukraine, staged presidential elections May 25 in an attempt to legitimize its rule.
Billionaire oligarch Peter Poroshenko, known as the “Chocolate King,” claimed victory with 54 percent of the vote. (CNN, May 27) His closest competitor, Yulia Tymoshenko of the far-right Fatherland party, got 12.9 percent.
Two candidates closely associated with the demands of the resistance movement in southeastern Ukraine — Oleg Tsarev, formerly of the Party of Regions, and Communist Party leader Peter Simonenko – withdrew. Both were subject to assassination attempts and denounced the election as a fraud.
Two reporters from Russia’s LifeNews were abducted, tortured and deported. An Italian journalist and his Russian interpreter were killed.
According to RT, Right Sector fascists armed with knives surrounded the Central Election Commission in Kiev on election day. Journalists trying to enter were subject to their approval.
Earlier, Right Sector leader Dymtro Yarosh had threatened that his forces would “guard” polling stations in eastern Ukraine. (Kyiv Post, May 23)
Nevertheless, U.S. and European election observers – headed by U.S. war criminal Madeleine Albright – rushed to declare the elections “free and fair,” even before the official results were in.
President Obama offered his congratulations via Twitter. Russian President Vladimir Putin, facing provocative military and economic threats from the U.S. and NATO, signaled that he would recognize the election results and negotiate with Poroshenko.
The U.S. and European imperialists hope Poroshenko’s ascension will finally cement their plans to rule Ukraine through an International Monetary Fund austerity program. They want to destroy the resistance movement in the southeast, which has taken an increasingly anti-capitalist direction.
Boycott vs. ‘elections of blood’
While the junta says between 55 and 60 percent of eligible voters participated, three areas claimed by Kiev did not participate at all – the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which has chosen to join the Russian Federation. These three areas contain nearly 20 percent of the total Ukrainian population of 45.6 million.
In other southeastern regions like Kharkov, Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk, many heeded the call to boycott what were described as “the elections of blood.” This refers to the May 2 massacre of 48 people by neo-Nazis in Odessa and the ongoing Ukrainian military assault on Donetsk and Lugansk.
Election watchdog group Opora, cited by the pro-junta Kyiv Post, gave a figure of 45 percent voter participation overall, while exit poll data suggested an even lower turnout. (Global Research, May 25)
In Donetsk city on May 25, hundreds marched to the estate of oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest boss and owner of several mines. Protesters demanded that the new people’s government seize Akhmetov’s mansion and nationalize his properties. Akhmetov had staged a “strike” of his employees against the Donetsk People’s Republic in the run-up to the elections.
Hundreds also rallied in Kharkov, including supporters of the revolutionary socialist organization Union Borotba (Struggle), despite growing attacks on the anti-fascist movement.
Regime escalates violence
Although Poroshenko had promised negotiations, as soon as his victory was announced, the Ukrainian military assault escalated. He boasted, “The anti-terrorist operation … should and will last [only] hours.” (Guardian, May 26)
Kiev immediately launched punishing airstrikes on Donetsk in an attempt to regain control of its airport.
The National Guard – comprised mostly of fascist gang members in uniform – carried out attacks on civilian housing blocks in the cities of Donetsk and Slavyansk using heavy weaponry, and causing many casualties.
Aleksandr Boroday, prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, reported that 50 civilians and 50 antifascist militia members had been killed May 26, as the region braces for more attacks. (RT, May 27)
Donetsk residents are being urged to stock up on supplies and stay indoors if possible. All people’s militia members, health care workers and activists are being mobilized for the defense of the city.
On May 27, workers at several mines in the southeast launched strikes against the junta’s military offensive.
“Miners from the Skochinskogo, Abakumova, Chelyuskintsev and Trudovskaya mines have not been working today,” a representative told RIA Novosti. “People have been standing by the entrances, not wanting to go underground. They are having rallies demanding the suspension of military actions.”