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An optimistic view of a supremely difficult election

May 23rd, 2014
02:30 PM ET

There are difficult elections, and then there is Ukraine's election:

This Sunday, voters will seek to legitimize their post-Yanukovych era by electing a new president.

But unbearable pressure from Russia has come very close to scuppering it – first annexing Crimea and then encouraging pro-Russian separatists to destabilize eastern Ukraine by declaring independence, and shedding blood in some parts.

Nine hundred observers from the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) will be overseeing the election, because a truly free and fair poll will be vital for peace and stability.

“I expect elections in Ukraine to be largely okay in the overwhelming number of districts,” Wolfgang Ischinger, representative of the OSCE for Ukraine, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Friday.

“But there are huge obstacles in the east, principally in two of the districts. And I expect that voting there will be either patchy or maybe impossible for many citizens. So we will not have a totally perfect vote.”

Despite imperfection, he said, the election of a new president represents an enormous opportunity.

“If he or she reaches out to those living in the east and explains to them that he wants to be their president also, I believe that that can change things in a significant way.”

Just weeks ago, there were significant concerns that Russia could launch a full-scale invasion of eastern Ukraine. Now, Ischinger said, he is buoyed by attempts to calm the situation.

“I am extremely excited about the fact that some of the so-called oligarchs in the country are now also finally, you know, waking up and dispatching their workers and using some of their financial resources to help create an atmosphere of calm, an atmosphere that will allow people to go to vote without being intimidated. Intimidation is a big problem here.”

Ukraine remains a very divided country, and chaotic, country. Just this week 16 people were killed on an attack on soldiers in the country’s eastern Donetsk region.

But there is no indication, Ischinger said, that eastern parts of the country genuinely want to break off – a claim backed up by public opinion polls.

“I traveled myself to Donetsk to speak to the mayor and to local oligarchs and other people,” Ischinger said. “I can tell you that I have not found a single responsible person in Ukraine who advocates, who really advocates as a serious plan, a division, a carving of Ukraine. I have only found people who wish to keep Ukraine together.”

“What people in the east are so tremendously unhappy about is that they feel left alone by Kiev. They want a different government. They want different leadership.”

“But I don't believe that people in the east, at least not those that I have had a chance to meet, really want to leave Ukraine.”

What will be critical for the country, he told Amanpour, is that the country’s governance is reformed.

“Constitutional reform in Ukraine, including in particular this item of decentralization, is the key, the principle job for post-election Ukraine.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Ukraine
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. james

    so is cnn medias did you people have your freedom to speach ?lieying and they are killing inocent people is good for you what?everybod will die like the way innocent people

    May 23, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Reply
    • pappyvanwinkle

      Which deaths are you referring to? Maiden or Odessa or both?

      May 23, 2014 at 6:37 pm | Reply
    • Ivan

      many reasonable people understand about current situation in UA http://www.youtube_com/watch?v=GBip2aANvA8

      May 24, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  2. pappyvanwinkle

    Putin has probably backed off a bit for now. What will be interesting is if a Pro-Russian winds up as president and we're back to square one. What's obvious is that Putin needs Ukraine for his Eurasian Economic Union. Without Ukraine it would be a hollow victory and the Union will fall apart.

    May 23, 2014 at 6:37 pm | Reply
    • Jay

      Of course Putin has backed off. Putin does not need to send in the army, as ethnic Russians have already split off. The DPR, LPR and Novorossiya is a reality, and the Border to Ukraine has already been opened in Donetsk oblast to Russia. They are printing their own DPR car tags and license plates. Novorossiya which consists of Lugansk and Donetsk is a done deal. People will soon see after the dust from the bandera elections clears.

      May 25, 2014 at 10:25 pm | Reply
    • Jay

      And why does Putin Need Ukraine for the Eurasion Economic Union? Do you even know what that means? A statement like that could only have originated from an american political analyst.

      May 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Reply
  3. Ivan

    thoughts of some German politican http://www.youtube_com/watch?v=GBip2aANvA8

    May 24, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  4. Ivan

    some foreign jornalists wounded under Slavjansk, killed italian journalist

    May 24, 2014 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  5. rippl

    oh my such tolerance for imperfections lol

    this was missing for the crimea vote...

    May 25, 2014 at 7:25 am | Reply
  6. Midge

    Testing 1 2 3

    May 25, 2014 at 6:32 pm | Reply
  7. menisino

    But, in the meantime Putin wants the new leader of Ukraine to leave those that have murdered, including politicians, alone. This double standard of Putin's is his so-called open card to further create chaos in eastern Ukraine with the ultimate goal of Russian leaning eastern parts from Russia to Crimea. Ukraine must go hard & eliminate all those who oppose thru violence. As Putin has done in many Russian federations. Hardly a man of thru value or truth...a typical Russian liar.

    May 25, 2014 at 10:50 pm | Reply
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