Ukraine’s presidential vote - what lurks in the shadows?

The legitimacy of the whole political process in Ukraine is very doubtful, so to be frank, is does not matter whether the elections will be legitimate or not

Maria Dubovikova
Maria Dubovikova - Maria Dubovikova
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The world press recently shared the news that Russia would respect the results of the Ukrainian presidential election with joy. But the media should not have jumped the gun. Nothing is that straightforward.

What did Putin really say at the Saint-Petersburg International Economic Forum?

In should be said that the panel moderator, CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore, made three attempts to get an answer on the question disturbing the international community: whether Russia would accept the legitimacy of elections in Ukraine. Did he finally get it?

In his responses, Russia’s president did not use the words “elections,” or “vote” at all - at least, not in the sense that is appropriated to him. Putin said: “With no doubt, we'll respect the will of the Ukrainian people.”

And he immediately made a clause: “We will certainly watch what is going on.”

He mentioned that it would be much better to hold a referendum over the new constitution before presidential elections, as this would lend legitimacy to the elections and an elected political figure. Also, he mentioned that there was a civil war in the country.

These clauses vanish the concrete answer on the question and permit a large room of maneuver for Russia in accordance with the circumstances of any future situation in Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the same day, the same place, answering questions from journalists mentioned that Russia’s position on the elections depends on the manner they will be held, on how the election process will be organized, and whether the elections will take place to the accompaniment of the cannonade of the “so-called anti-terrorist operation.”

The legitimacy of the whole political process in Ukraine is very doubtful, so to be frank, is does not matter whether the elections will be legitimate or not. In the current situation “legitimacy” is nothing more than a word with no sense, but important for some players to put up a bold front. The Western powers supporting Kiev’s current government are already ready to rule the elections results whatever the circumstances of their holding and whatever will be the violations and toll of attendance.

The legitimacy of the whole political process in Ukraine is very doubtful, so to be frank, is does not matter whether the elections will be legitimate or not

Maria Dubovikova

Such approaches don’t add legitimacy at all, as well as there is no understanding of in what constitutional framework and in what juridical framework they are taking place. But who cares? The current situation is in a complete dead-end, and no matter what the measures are to overcome the current state of affairs, the only thing that really matters is their outcome.

So Russia reserves to itself the right to recognize these elections and their results, whether legitimate or not. But this changes nothing, as it will respect the will of the Ukrainian people, so will work with the person and the government to be formed after the elections, putting aside juridical mismatches to push the process from the dead point.

But anticipating the possible joy, it should be said that these elections and appearance of an “elected” president do not in practice change anything on the political playground, but mostly exacerbate the situation.

Vague mandate

With no constitution and adequate juridical framework, the competences of the elected president are mostly vague. For instance, by tradition, a president assuming office should swear on the constitution, on what will swear that one to be elected, if the new constitution is not ready, and the old one is mostly a book with some useless text?

If the new president does not start a national dialogue, and instead pursues the violent suppression of the Russian-speaking southeast, they will hardly contribute to the national unity, what is the use of this new president, as the situation will stay as it is or even escalate.

The appearance of the new constitution after the elections could bring unpleasant surprises to the president, if it limits his authority. And moreover, some odious presidential candidates claim to start the new turn of the revolution if the results will not correspond to their expectations.

We can hardly imagine the consequences of this vote, as the political battle between the candidates can immediately develop into the full-scale national confrontation, taking into account numerous dubious movements, who don’t neglect violent and barbarian methods of defending their stance.

It’s likely that these elections won’t bring peace – or a president who will remain in office for long.
But it is still a great probability that the situation will become more complex. And in this perspective, all concerns over Russia’s approval or disapproval of the presidential elections looks very naive.


Maria Dubovikova is a co-founder of IMESClub (International Middle Eastern Studies Club), IMESClub Executive Director and member of the Club Council, author of several scientific articles and participant of several high level international conferences. She is a permanent member of the Think-tank under the American University in Moscow. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia) (honors diploma), she had been working for three months as a trainee at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) in Paris. Now she is a PhD Candidate at MGIMO (Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia). Her research field is Russian foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, the policy of France and the US towards the Mediterranean, theory of international relations, humanitarian interventions and etc. Fluently speaks and writes in French and English. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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