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2014年5月14日 (水)

ウクライナ混迷 「住民投票」に法的効力はない

The Yomiuri Shimbun 6:59 pm, May 13, 2014
Referendums in east Ukraine illegal, sure to escalate turmoil in region
ウクライナ混迷 「住民投票」に法的効力はない

The latest referendums in Ukraine are nothing less than illegal. The vote has apparently invigorated the pro-Russian

separatists in Ukrainian regions, which can only aggravate the turmoil there.

Pro-Russian separatists conducted referendums in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine—regions that

are home to many Russian-speaking people—after raising the issue of the regions’ “sovereignty.” The organizers of

the vote said an overwhelming majority of people opted for sovereignty.


But the latest vote has no legal basis. The Ukrainian Constitution stipulates that any change in territory must be

decided with a national referendum and does not allow such a change based on a local referendum.


Western countries and Japan, as well as the provisional government of Ukraine, have made clear their stance of not

recognizing the vote. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the vote “lacks democratic legitimacy.” Suga’s

remark is quite reasonable.


The pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk region said voter turnout topped 70 percent and about 90 percent of

voters opted for sovereignty. But we can hardly trust the result of the vote.

The referendums were held under an unusual situation in which armed pro-Russian insurgents were unlawfully

occupying local governments’ buildings, blocking the provisional government from governing the regions.

In addition to incomplete electoral rolls, no measures were taken to check such acts as double voting. Some have

pointed out that fraudulent voting took place.

The voting was so problematic that it is natural to assume it was orchestrated by the pro-Russian separatists.

Putin’s agenda

The separatists concluded the results showed local people’s support for making their regions separate and

independent from Ukraine. They went on to say they will block the Ukrainian presidential election, scheduled for May

25, from being held in the eastern regions.


If there is no presidential vote in Donetsk and other areas, it would be difficult for the provisional government to

assert the legitimacy of the elected president, sending the country into greater turmoil. There is also a concern that

the conflict between the pro-Russian separatists and the provisional government of Ukraine will intensify, bringing

about more bloodshed.


Prior to the referendums, Russian President Vladimir Putin had urged the organizers to postpone the vote, as if he

were trying to dampen the pro-Russian separatist movement.

After the vote, however, the Russian government announced it would respect the result. This proves that Putin was

only trying to buy time when he sought to delay the vote.

On Friday, the day Russia celebrated its victory over Germany in World War II, Putin traveled to Sevastopol in

southern Crimea for the first time since Russia annexed Crimea, and made a speech.

During the speech, he asserted the legitimacy of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, while emphasizing his stance of

ignoring international criticism.

The United States and European countries have warned Russia that they would reinforce their sanctions against the

country if it destabilizes the eastern regions of Ukraine further and blocks the presidential election.

As long as there is no path in sight for a peaceful solution to be reached through dialogue, the only option for

Western countries and Japan may be to increase pressure on Russia for the time being.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 13, 2014)


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