Ukraine calls local elections but not in rebel-held east

AP News
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Posted: Jul 17, 2015 9:24 AM
Ukraine calls local elections but not in rebel-held east

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The Ukrainian parliament on Friday voted to call local elections across the country in October, but not in the rebel-occupied east.

The Kiev government has had no control over parts of eastern Ukraine since separatist rebels began fighting government forces in April 2014, a conflict that has since claimed more than 6,400 lives.

An armistice signed in February by Ukraine, Russia and the Russia-backed rebels called for local elections in eastern rebel-held areas as one step toward a comprehensive cease-fire, which has not been achieved yet.

The bill passed Friday by the Rada said regional elections for mayors and local lawmakers will not be held in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia, or in rebel-held eastern districts because of the security situation and because Ukrainian officials simply have no access to those areas.

The bill published on the Rada's website said that election officials will have to formally notify the parliament that they are unable to organize the vote in the rebel-held areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions because of hostilities there or because they "cannot comply with the OSCE election standards... or ensure security for Ukrainian citizens."

The RIA Novosti news agency on Friday quoted Gennady Tsyplakov, a senior rebel official in the Luhansk region, saying that Kiev has not talked to rebels about the possibility of holding elections on their territories.

Rebels earlier said they would hold a local vote in their areas in October but that they will not allow Ukrainian representatives organize or monitor it.