Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ukraine Presidential Election May 25 , 2014 -- Live blog from Kiev Post ( as of time of this post , periodic updates to follow ) , articles from Itar Tass ( overview of Presidential Election ) and Russia Today ( note cyber hacking hits election voting forcing potential manual count ) .....

Itar Tass.......

Presidential elections in Ukraine

 May 25, 16:23 UTC+4
According to the Central Election Committee, the highest voter participation is seen in the Kiev and Kirovohrad regions
Amid continuing military operation in Ukraine’s east, presidential elections have started on Sunday. Precisely at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT) polling stations have opened on the country. Overall, 35.5 million citizens have the right to vote for Ukraine’s president.
The registration of presidential nominees has finished April 4, 2014. 23 candidates have been registered. They had the right to withdraw from the elections until May 2. Verkhovna Rada member Oleh Tsariov and leader of the ‘Ukraine — Forward!’ party Natalia Korolevska withdrew from the election race. May 1, they wrote applications for Ukraine’s Central Election Committee (CEC) and were officially withdrawn from the elections on the following day. After May 1, leader of the civic alliance ‘New Kiev’ Zoryan Shkiryak, chairman of Ukraine’s Communist Party Oleksandr Klimenko and ex-chief of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine Vasyl Tsushko have refused to take part in the elections. However, according to the Ukrainian legislation, their names remain in the ballots.
Thus, the ballots have names of 21 nominees, but in effect only 17 people representing different political forces are running for the post of Ukraine’s president.

Ukrainian presidential election in Lugansk region held only in 2 districts

 May 25, 12:44 UTC+4
According to recent reports, 284 polling stations are working in the Lugansk region in general
KIEV, May 25, 12:28 /ITAR-TASS/. In the Lugansk region, the Ukrainian presidential election voting is held only in two of the total 12 districts, head of the country’s Central Election Commission (CEC) Mikhail Okhendovsky told reporters on Sunday.
“In the Lugansk region the polling stations have opened only in two of the total 12 districts,” he said. According to Okhendovsky, the organisation of the election in Lugansk has failed.
According to recent reports, 284 polling stations are working in the Lugansk region in general.

Russia Today......

‘Cyber-attack’ on Ukraine’s election system may force ‘manual vote count’

Published time: May 24, 2014 23:02
Edited time: May 25, 2014 04:17

Election commission workers prepare the poling station for the upcoming presidential election in Kiev, May 24, 2014. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili)
Election commission workers prepare the poling station for the upcoming presidential election in Kiev, May 24, 2014. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili)
Ukraine’s Security Service claims that it has removed a virus at the Central Election Commission’s server, designed to delete the results of the presidential vote. According to the interior minister the cyber-attack may force a ‘manual vote count.’
“The virus has been eliminated, software is replaced. So, we now have the confidence that the Central Election Commission’s server is safe,” Valentin Nalivaychenko, SBU head, is cited by UNN news agency. He is cited as saying that the virus was meant to destroy the results of presidential election on May 25.
However the CEC programmers may not be able to fix the system in time for the elections, coup-installed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced on his website.
“On May 22 unknown intruders destroyed the 'Elections' information-analytical system of the Central Elections Commission, including those of the regional election commissions.”
“Criminal negligence of some of the CEC officials led to a very late reporting of this issue to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Security Service,” Avakov wrote. As a result, “programmers so far failed to fix the CEC equipment,” the minister said announcing that fixing the problem in time for the vote count is “impossible.”
Avakov assured this is not a “catastrophe” and said that counting may be done manually, claiming this way Ukraine will have “more reliable results.”
At the same time, Nalivaychenko did not mention any intruders but claimed the harmful program was “illegally” installed on the server under the previous government of President Viktor Yanukovich, who was overthrown via an armed coup in February.
On Friday, UNN reported about a hacker attack, which made the Central Election Commission’s website inoperable for several hours.
The agency’s “informed source” claimed the perpetrators tried to steal data for the Commission’s sever and thereby disrupt the Sunday’s election.
However, the source failed to clarify how the information theft could affect the vote, saying that the lost data has to be analyzed first.
A members of the election comission mops the floor of a pooling station ahead of the upcoming Ukrainian presidential election at the Octyabr village in the Donetsk region on May 22, 2014. (AFP Photo/Genya Savilov)
A members of the election comission mops the floor of a pooling station ahead of the upcoming Ukrainian presidential election at the Octyabr village in the Donetsk region on May 22, 2014. (AFP Photo/Genya Savilov)

Just hours before the election, Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has admitted that it cannot ensure the security of the elections in several cities in the Donetsk region, according to the deputy Minister of the Central Election Commission.
“Security cannot be ensured in Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Krasniy Liman and Grushivka,” Sergey Yarovoy said, adding that the ministry established special operational headquarters to coordinate security issues with the CEC. Contact information of these Ministry of Internal Affairs’ centers has been provided to foreign observers due to cover elections in east Ukraine, Yarovoy says.
Earlier Vladimir Grinyak, the head of the Department of Public Safety in the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs acknowledged that only 17 out of 34 district election commissions in Donetsk and Lugansk regions are ready for polls.
“I think that 5 percent will still vote and 10 percent of the votes will be lost,” the head of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine Aleksandr Chernenko said. During the last presidential race in 2010, in Donetsk region 2,510 polling stations were active and handled 2.69 million voters. In Lugansk region, 1483 polling stations processed votes from 1.39 million people.
The two regions combined constitute roughly 14 percent of Ukraine’s eligible voters. At the same time in the other 12 regions of Ukraine the polling stations “have been secured” ahead of the vote, Grinyak added.
Twenty-one candidates will take part in the early presidential election in Ukraine, scheduled for Sunday, May 25. According to opinion polls, oligarch Petr Poroshenko enters the vote as favorite on 28 per cent, followed by ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko on 9.5 per cent.

The country’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which rebelled against the coup imposed authorities and held independence referendums, declared they won’t be participating in the vote.

Kiev Post.....

High turnout in Ukraine vote; Kremlin-

backed separatists march to 

Akhmetov's house in Donetsk (LIVE 


May 25, 2014, 3:26 p.m. | Ukraine — by Kyiv Post
Part of a group that numbered 2,000 people, including armed Kremlin-backed gunmen, stand outside billionaire Rinat Akhmetov's house in Donetsk. They were attempting to get inside. Akhmetov has recently forcefully come out against the separatist movement in the Donbas, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The crowd chanted "Akhmetov is an enemy of the people." Akhmetov, however, is in Kyiv, according to his spokesman Jock Mendoza-Wilson.
© Christopher J. Miller

Editor's Note: Ukrainians are coming to the polls on May 25 for an early presidential election amid bright sunshine and warm temperatures. There are 21 names in the ballot, but the front-runners before polling stopped on May 23 are billionaire member of parliament, Petro Poroshenko, who is a former economy and foreign minister, and ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was imprisoned by ex-President Viktor Yanukovych for 30 months.
The elections are coming a year ahead of schedule because of the Feb.22 ouster of Yanukovych in the EuroMaidan Revolution. While the nation has 35.5 million voters, nearly 20 percent of the nation faces disenfranchisement, including 1.8 million voters in Kremlin-occupied Crimea, 3.3 million voters in Donetsk Oblast and 1.8 million voters in Luhansk Oblast.

OPORA says 45 percent of people voted by 4 p.m.
7:20 p.m. OPORA election watchdog says more than 45 percent of Ukrainians voted in the early presidential election. In the west, some 52 percent of the voters came to the polls by that time, while in the south and east of the country the number stood at 37 percent.

Voter turnout by 4 p.m., breakdown by the region.

Donetsk People's Republic flag resembles American Confederate flag
7 p.m. -- The flags of the Donetsk People's Republic and the American Confederacy look a lot alike, whether by design or by accident. The fledgling, self-declared Donetsk People's Republic has been in existence for less than a month, while the American South fought a civil war to secede from the rest of America, but surrendered on April 9, 1865. The similarities include a diagonal x in blue with red background. The flag is said to resemble the one of the short-lived Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic in 1918, before the Bolsheviks consolidated their hold over the territories of the former Soviet Union.

The flag of the Donetsk People's Republic

The flag of teh American Confederacy
Shootout in Luhansk Oblast's Novoaidar; at least one dead
6:44 p.m. -- Three cars in Novoaidar in Luhansk Oblast were fired on. One of the cars contained election ballots, but had license plates of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic. Eyewitnesses said one gun man was killed and his mother wounded. Four Kremlin-backed insurgents arrived and asked frightened police officers what happened. The shooting highlights how edgy both Ukrainian army and Russian-backed separatists are behaving, with tensions high and itchy trigger fingers.
Observers say 15 out of 22 constituency election commissions not working in Donetsk Oblast
5:16 p.m. -- The information according to Jock Mendoza-Wilson, spokesman for billionaire Rinat Akhmetov: 
According to the information provided by the election observers on the morning of May 25, 15 of 22 constituency election commissions do not work in Donetsk Oblast: Donetsk, 41 ,42,43, 44, 45; Horlivka, 51,52; 53 – Yenakiyevo; 54 – Torez; 55 – Shakhtersk; 46 Artemovsk (some of he election commissions are open, but they don’t know what to do as they don’t have any ballots); 48th precinct – Kramatorsk; 56, 57 – Makeyevka; 60 precinct, Maryinka (the constituency election commission doesn’t work but some of the polling stations are open)
Some of the polling stations are open and are trying to organize the voting process in just seven electoral precincts:
47 precinct  (Aleksandrovka) – Only 19 polling stations; in two election commissions, heads and secretariesr etired from responsibility but the commissions decided to continue working;
49 precinct (Dobropolye) – just 8 polling stations are not open in Dobropolye, including one station in Dobropolye district
50 precinct (Krasnoarmeysk). In Krasnoarmeysk, six polling stations are not open (out of 55).
58 precinct (Mariupol) – just four polling stations are not open
59 precinct (Mariupol) – 91 polling stations are open, 8 stations are closed;
61 precinct (Volnovakha) – Some of the polling stations have opened but early in the morning polling stations No. 140803, No.140800, No. 140792 have been seized by Donetsk People's Republic  representatives; 
62 precinct (Starobeshevo)lthe electoral precincts are just receiving the voting bulletins. In Amvrosyevka, some unknown people have broken the windows of many buildings where the precinct election commissions sit.
Front-running presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko votes in Kyiv on May 25.
Voter turnout 9 percent in Donetsk by 3 p.m.
4:45 p.m. --  The voter turnout is 9.11% at the presidential election in Donetsk region as of 3 p.m., according to the electronic indicator board in the Central Election Commission (CEC).
CEC said that information on the voter turnout in Donetsk region arrived from one election district – No. 49. There are 22 districts in Donetsk region.Currently CEC does not have information on the voting process in Luhansk region.

Part of a group that numbered 2,000 people, including armed pro-Russian gunmen, stand outside billionaire Rinat Akhmetov's house in Donetsk. Protesters were attempting to get inside, but the gunmen were defending the premises. Akhmetov has recently forcefully come out against the separatist movement in the Donbas, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The crowd chanted "Akhmetov is an enemy of the people." Akhmetov, however, is in Kyiv, according to his spokesman Jock Mendoza-Wilson.
Ukrainian soldiers who came to polls in Luhansk regions scared election officials and made them flee
4: 15 p.m. -- Oleksandr Chernenko, head of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, an election watchdog, said that Ukrainians soldiers who came to vote at a polling station in Novovodyane village of Luhansk, scared election officials who ran for their lives, thinking the armed men were separatists.
Chernenko says that the soldiers, who are serving in that village, came dressed in full military outfits, and carried weapons.
“This really scared members of polling station, and the soldiers were left alone at the polling station. It took some time to persuade members of the commission that there is no danger. The military guys were in the voting lists, and had a right to receive ballots,” Chernenko wrote on his Facebook page.
Dozens of members of the pro-Russian Eastern Battalion shoot automatic weapons into the air on May 25 in the center of Donetsk.
Close to 40 percent of Ukrainians voted by 3 p.m., according to CEC evaluation

3:50 p.m. -- An estimated 38.53 percent of Ukrainians voted in the ealry presidential elections by 3 p.m, according to the Central Election Commission. The data was harvested from a sample of 13 district commissions out of 225.

3:17 p.m. -- A high-level delegation of observers for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe went to Donetsk on May 24, to assess the voting situation and encourage people to vote. It appears, however, that no voting is taking place in the city of Donetsk on May 25, while Donetsk Oblast has some polling stations open.
The delegation included: R. Spencer Oliver, OSCE Parliament Assembly secretary general; Ikka Kanerva, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly; Joao Soares, special coordinator of the OSCE’s short-term observation mission for Ukraine’s 2014 presidential election; and Chrystia Freeland, the journalist and member of Canada’s parliament.
Richard Solash, communications director of the OSCE PA, said the delegation met with an adviser to interim Donetsk Governor and other election official. He said it is hoped that “their presence should send the message” for people to vote.
Solash would not confirm reports that the delegation, which stayed only several hours in Donetsk, were flown to Donetsk in the private jet of billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, saying only that the delegation “got their by private arrangement.”
OPORA shows 25 percent national turnout by noon on May 25
2:32 p.m. More evidence emerged that Ukraine may be heading for a record voter turnout in the May 25 presidential election. OPORA, the election watchdog, says that 25 percent of voters turned out by noon, with the lowest turnout naturally in the separatist-infiltrated eastern regions. But that quarter of the nation still had 22 percent turnout, OPORA said.

By noon, some 25 percent of the nation's voters had turned out to vote, according to OPORA election watchdog. The highest turnout -- 27 percent -- included the region that encompasses Kyiv and northern Ukraine while the lowest -- 22 percent -- is in the eastern oblasts that include the Kremlin-backed separatist strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Voter turnout 17.52 percent as of 11 p.m.
2:30 pm. Voter turnout hit 17.52 percent for the presidential election by 11 a.m., according to the Central Election Commission.
Voting under way in Novoaidar of Luhansk Oblast
2:27 p.m. -- While the streets are almost empty, voting is under way in Novoaidar in Luhansk Oblast, located near the Russian border between districts controlled by separatists and Ukrainian army. The local House of Culture sports a big Ukrainian flag. Despite many rumors that the elections here will be disrupted, one polling station visited and had more than 200 people vote by 2 p.m. out of 1,800 registered voters. At one polling station, a 58-year-old former local water supply station's worker, came to vote wearing a St. George's ribbon -- a symbol of the Kremlin-backed separatists. He said the ribbon belonged to his grandfather and that his wife tied it to his shirt. But he said he didn't participate in the May 11 referendum to secede from Ukraine. He voted for ex-deputy prime minister Yuriy Boiko. "I'm Ukrainian and so and this is my citizen's dignity to vote here," he said. Members of the election commission think the turnout will be less than 50 percent here. "People are afraid even to let their children walk the streets," said Oksana Mordasova, head of the election commision at this polling station.
Armed Kremlin-backed separatists march on Akhmetov's house, Taruta's hotel in Donetsk
2:14 p.m. A dangerous situation is brewing in Donetsk Oblast, as some 2,000 armed pro-Rusisan separatists and their supporters left a rally in Donetsk's Lenin Square with orders to march to the home of billionaire Rinat Akhmetov in the city. A smaller group, armed with Kalashnikovs and other weapons, stormed interim Donetsk Governor Sergiy Taruta's Victoria Hotel looking for him. They left because he wasn't there. The anti-Akhmetov crowd chanted: "Akhmetov is an enemy of the people."
Akhmetov spokesman Jock Mendoza-Wilson says that Akhmetov is in Kyiv on May 25.
Crimeans form convoy to vote in Kherson Oblast
1:59 p.m. Around 15 cars travelled to Kherson Oblast from Simferopol this morning carrying Crimeans who wanted to vote. Four cars were stopped en route and their license plates were recorded by traffic police who deemed them to be a convoy but otherwise voters encountered no difficulties on the journey to the border crossing, according to Eskender Bariyev, one of the voters.
Chechens arrive to take part in Vostok Battalion in Donetsk
1:54 p.m. Several troops in Vostok Battalion speaking Chechen today. One woman asks one of them, "Where are you from? Russia?" Man's answer: "Chechnya."

Kremlin-backed separatists and their pro-Russian supporters held a rally that drew several hundred people to Lenin Square in Donetsk, home to 10 percent of Ukraine's population.
Siumar says there is a record-breaking turnout 
1:50 p.m. -- Viktoria Siumar, deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said there is a record-breaking turnout at this election. “We're getting information from all regions on record turnout. In the most troublesome – in Donetsk and Luhansk – more than 1,000 polling stations are open. In some districts, soch as Dobropillya, Svatovo, there is not a single polling station working. Even though the terrorists had a task of totally disrupting the election, the high turnout is an answer of Ukrainians to those who, in the last three months, and sparing no resources, tried to make a failed state out of Ukraine and demand extrernal governance. The answer is persuasive,” Siumar wrote on her Facebook page.
Two leading candidates vote; Poroshenko in Kyiv, Tymoshenko in Dnipropetrovsk

Ukrainian presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko goes to cast his ballot with his children in a polling station in Kiev on May 25, 2014. Ukraine began voting on Sunday in a presidential election seen as the most important in the country's history as it grapples with a deadly pro-Russian rebellion in the east. Thirty-six million people are registered to vote, but the separatist insurgents have threatened to block polling in areas under their control in the industrial east. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY

: Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko (C) speaks to journalists after casting her ballot, alongside her daughter Yevhenia (L) and her husband Olexandr (R), at a polling station in Dnipropetrovsk, on May 25, 2014. Ukraine was voting today in a presidential election seen as the most important in the country's history as it battles a deadly pro-Russian insurrection in the east. AFP PHOTO / ANATOLIY STEPANOV
Low turnout in Donetsk Oblast
1:35 p.m. The Committee of Voters of Ukraine, an election watchdog, reports a low turnout in a handful of open polling stations in Donetsk Oblast, where only seven district commissions of 15 opened today. “At the polling stations that opened up, the turnout by 11 a.m. was five percent,” Oleksandr Chernenko, head of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine tweeted.
Kyivans upbeat about voting
1:34 p.m. Lidia Wolanskyj, the author and journalist who founded Eastern Economist, offers her observation of voting in Kyiv today:
Went to district 800, polling station 402 on bul. Verkhovnoyi Rady 15 in Darnytsia. Masses of people in a tiny, narrow space with 6 ballot boxes! The mood is upbeat, people smiling, here and there a vyshvanka, parents with kids in buggies, even the odd dog or two.
While my friend Shaun Williams takes pictures of the action, I turn to an older woman in a chair to my right: "Pretty amazing turnout," I say to her. "I've never seen anything like this ever before," she smiles, answering me in Ukrainian. "The mood is very positive too." "I guess people came out early to vote so that they can go to their dachas today?" "No," she replied, "they've come in from their dachas to vote!" We chat briefly as a young woman in an embroidered blouse plays with her baby and elderly people shuffle leaning out on their canes.
The good mood is palpable. No fear, no suspicion. A couple of security folks in the foyer who mind their own business and don't even go into the voting area. No strange men in camo hanging around, no fear as in the last 10 years when Yanukovych & Co were always the unknown factor on any vote.
An even older woman sits to my left. I make the same comment to her. "I can't believe it! This is so amazing! I have never seen this kind of turn out before, never!" she says, tears springing to her eyes. "I'm just so happy." She switches to Ukrainian. "Finally." And we start talking about everything that has been happening in recent months while people keep dropping their ballots (there's one for the 21 presidential candidates, one for the umpteen candidates for Mayor of Kyiv, and three ballots with all the myriad parties for the Kyiv City Council). Some sit down in chairs to review the lists and orient themselves. Others are coming out of their booths and folding their five ballots into the slot. The boxes are slowly filling up.
A native Kyivite, this woman slowly switches back to Russian as she tells me her husband is in line to vote here. "What about you? Don't you live together?" "Oh, of course we do, but I'm registered in another station. I'll be voting down the street." She tells me about how she has asked God to forgive her for hating Putin, "But I just can't help it. I cannot love him." Just then, her husband walks up, ballots in hand. "D'you have a pen?" His wife does not, but I do, so I give him mine. And he goes off to cast his vote.
Meanwhile, my daughter has finally come out of the voting booth (the registration line took more than an hour to go through!). Shaun captures her casting her ballot. Time to go. Kyiv is in safe hands!
And then I think, if it weren't for Kyiv there would not have been any Maidan. Not in 2004. Not in 2014.

Upbeat voters turn out in large numbers at a polling station in Kyiv's Darnytsia district on May 25. (Shaun Williams)
Luhansk news site offers reliable updates (for those who read Russian)
1:24 p.m. Here are samples of Informator Luhansk’s May 24 reports, courtesy of author and journalist Lidia Wolanskyj:
(1)  Alchevsk: Luhansk National Republic militants unexpectedly attacked the TV station and turned off Ukrainian channels, which had until now been broadcasting without disruption, and dispersed the district electoral committee. Voters may be left without information about the progress of the vote and any dangerous situations.
(2) LNR militants are arming students in the region.
(3) LNR militants may be behind the shooting of a young man and woman on the outskirts of the city of Luhansk.
(4) In Stakhanov, Luhansk Oblast, 5 LNR terrorists were publicly displayed on Saturday to separatist shouts from the large crowd on the main square. Four were killed in battle, the fifth died in hospital. One of the men left 11 orphans behind (sic). The announcement was made that anyone who voted on Sunday would be declared an "enemy of the people of the LNR."
(5) A young leader of PLAST, a Ukrainian national scout organization, writes about her kidnapping by LNR on May 18, after a picnic with the children in her troop.
Here is the link to the site:
Kremlin-backed separatists have ambitious plans for ‘New Russia’
1:14 p.m. The Kremlin-backed separatists are circulating the first edition of their NovoRussiya newspapaper, which certainly suggests they will not be backing off their plan to conquer and dismember large parts of Ukraine after the May 25 presidential election.
The newspaper includes a map that claims Ukrainian territory as far west as Kharkiv, Kirovograd and Odessa oblasts – roughly the eastern half of the nation and much of the south to the Moldovan border.

The first edition of Novorussiya (New Russia) newspaper hit the streets in Donetsk on May 25.

The Kremlin-backed separatists are claiming the southeastern half of Ukraine as New Russia.

OPORA: Minor mistakes, violations in voters' lists
1:05 p.m. The observers of OPORA, the biggest election watchdog in Ukraine, is reporting many technical mistakes in voter lists. In Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, for example, in many cases there are mistakes in addresses of voters, some people are missing in the list, and there are many minor mistakes in the names. “The impression is that the lists are not updates, that the polling stations got an older version of the lists,” says Yuriy Panasiuk, who is monitoring the election in Synelnykovo, a village in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Other OPORA monitors say they are seeing the same problem in Kyiv. Generally, OPORA recorded 407 violations in the course of the election campaign until now.
Kremlin-backed separatists hold rally in front of Lenin Square in Donetsk
12:49 p.m. Separatists leader speaking to crowd of some 300 people at Donetsk's Lenin square: "The country of Ukraine is dead here. Our country is the country of Novorossiya!" Crowd applauds and chants "Rossiya!" About 80 pro-Russian Vostok Battalion militiamen arrived at Lenin Square for the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic rally. Hundreds of supporters clapping and chanting in support of "Our heroes!" Elderly women greeting them with kisses and hugs. Men shaking their hands. Several of the battalion are carrying mortars. All have Kalashnikovs. Several of the men speaking a language that is not Russian or Ukrainian. Several look ethnically different. Caucasian. Battalion just lined up at Lenin Square, pointed Kalashnikovs in air and fired several dozen round in salute. All in all, about eight trucks each with 20 armed men showed up.

Kremin-backed separatists fire gunshots in celebration of obstructing Ukraine's presidential election in Donetsk.

Donetsk Russian-backed separatists are greeted as heroes during a May 25 rally near the oblast capital's Lenin Square. The Kremlin-backed separatists have obstructed voting in Ukraine's largest oblast, home to 10 percent of Ukraine's population.
Akhmetov's spokesman writes about voting preparations in Donetsk
12:27 p.m. -- From a post on May 24 by Jock Mendoza-Wilson, spokesman for billionaire Rinat Akhmetov of Donetsk: "I have spent the day in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine speaking and meeting with those people here who are working day and night to try and secure citizens the right to vote in tomorrow's vital presidential elections. What strikes me most is that in spite of intimidation, fear and threats, ordinary citizens, election officials and the regional government are working tirelessly to try secure the fundamental freedom of the right to vote. It will be tough as the elections are a target for wholesale disruption by the violence of the small minority of separatists in this region. But each polling station opened, each vote cast, will be a triumph of the vote over the bullet and democracy over violence."

A Kremlin-backed separatist is greeted like a hero on May 25 in Donetsk, where voting for Ukraine's presidential election has been blocked by gunmen.
Kyiv's Obolon district, polling station 480 has long lines
12:23 p.m. -- Yet another report of long lines in Kyiv, this time at the Obolon district, polling station 480, where people waited for more than 90 minutes in line to get their chance to vote, indicative of the high turnout expected. 

An official at a polling station in Svatovo, Luhansk Oblast, waits for voters to show up on the morning on May 25. Many in that town feared to come to the polls because of the violence raging in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
In separatist-held Donetsk, ballot boxes thrown out as trash
12:18 p.m.  -- Ballot boxes outside separatist-occupied Donetsk regional state administration building are marked with the words "trash," highlighting the obvious problems for 10 percent of Ukrainians who at trying to vote in the presidential election.
Private guards seen at some polling stations in Kyiv

Private security guards stand outside a polling station on Saksaganskogo St. in Kyiv's Pechersk district. There are 12 teams of Sirius, a private security company, working in Kyiv on election day.
11:55 a.m. -- There are several teams of private security guards working at some polling stations in Kyiv, says Margaret Warner, a journalist of PBS News Hour, who is covering presidential elections in Ukraine.
"We've been to a couple of polling stations and at one of them, there were some private lightly armed security guards from a firm called Sirius. They said they basically a corporate, private security firm – and they don't know who the 'client' is who hired them today," Warner said.  "They said they have 12 teams working around the city today, all in communication, and so far no one had seen any sign of trouble."
Long queues at polling stations in Kyiv, CEC official says

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk and his wife Tereziya Yatseniuk queue to vote at a Kyiv polling station. The photo was tweeted by Tetyana Romanova, an observer at his polling station. The image of a prime minister humbly waiting for his turn in line - still unusual for Ukraine - was hailed by users of social networks.
11:20 a.m. -- Andriy Magera, deputy head of the Central Election Commission, said there were long lines in Kyiv's polling stations because each of the voters is getting four ballots for three different elections – the presidential election, the mayoral election and two ballots for the city council election. He wrote on his Facebook page that, combined with lack of experience of officials at polling stations, that has complicated the voting process. He urged Kyivans not to give up, though, and exercise their right. Below is the full text of his post.
“I want to apologize to the citizens for long lines at polling stations. Of course there are objective reasons for it – we need to give four ballots to each voter. The last time such number of ballots was issued was in 2006 . And many polling station members have no experience. The vast majority of them are conscientious and decent people.
I am lucky at my polling stations, which only has 1,400 voters. This is why there are no queues. In the future, we must do everything in order to reduce the number of voters at every polling station by increasing the number of polling stations themselves.
Unfortunately, there is a catastrophic shortage of facilities in both urban and rural areas.This is why it's unreasonable to criticize the local authorities.
I urge you to show understanding about long lines at polling stations. The voice of every voter is important. Once again I apologize for the inconvenience. We inevitably will elect a new president!”

Long lines formed at this polling station in Kyiv's Obolon district on the morning of May 25, partly reflecting a high turnout and partly because fewer election workers were on hand.
Ukrainian army stops near Karlivka
11:10 a.m. -- Near Karlivka, Donetsk Oblast: The five armored personnel carriers have pulled back and are now hunkered down at a checkpoint some 20 kilometers west of the rebel checkpoint in Karlivka, Donetsk Oblast. The stretch of highway between is mostly empty. The few cars passing through are carrying journalists.
Confrontation brewing between Ukrainian army, separatists in Donetsk Oblast
10:45 a.m -- On the road from Krasnoarmiisk to Donetsk in Donetsk Oblast: Five Ukrainian armored personnel carriers with some 15 troops are closing in on Kremlin-backed armed rebels at the Karlivka checkpoint. They are dangerously close to each other now.

A woman casts her ballot on May 25 in Krasnoarmiisk of Donetsk Oblast.
A vote for Poroshenko in Luhansk Oblast's Svatovo
10:35 a.m.  -- In Svatovo, Luhansk Oblast: Yury Irkha, businessman, 46, came to vote with his wife, daughter and little granddaughter. He said he voted for Petro Poroshenko. "Poroshenko is giving work to many, he is a famous businessman, known and respected in entire world," he explained his choice. Liubov Matviyevska, 56, business woman, said she voted for Poroshenko as he was the only candidate able to win in first round. "And we need to choose president in first round as this way we could save Ukraine," she said.

A voter goes to the polls in Donetsk Oblast's Krasnoarmiisk.
A vote for Poroshenko in Donetsk Oblast's Krasnoarmiisk
A middle-aged man who did not give his name said he had cast his vote for Petro Poroshenko. "He is the only choice," he said. "There is no other candidate who could win." One woman, Anastasia, was turned away from the Palace of Culture polling station after election workers could not find her name of the list of eligible voters. "I don't know where I can go to vote," she said.

Today's presidential ballot has 21 candidates for voters to choos from.
Fear depresses turnout in Svatovo polling station in Luhansk Oblast
10 a.m. -- In Svatovo, Luhansk Oblast: More than 120 people cast their ballots at polling station located in school No 2 in Svatovo by 10 a.m., two hours after voting began. "Yet this is much less than usual. I remember previous times it was a long line of people willing to vote at this time," said Tetiana Yatsyna, 24, an economist. Yatsyna said she voled for Mykhailo Dobkin. "He is from Kharkiv, which is close to us. But honestly I didn't know which candidate to choose." Halyna Korostiy, a member of election commision at this stationm said that in previous years, the number of voters was four times higher by this time. "But now people are very scared," she said, adding that three members of thier commission refused to work here because of fears for their personal safety. Still Svatovo district, along with Starobilsk district, are the only two where elections are expected to happen in the entire Luhansk Oblast.

Ukraine has 35.5 million voters, but 6.9 million of them -- in Crimea, Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk Oblast -- may not get to vote in the May 25 presidential election.

Death Dealing ........

OSCE demands to investigate murder of Italian reporter and his interpreter in Ukraine

 May 25, 20:10 UTC+4
The organization’s media freedom representative states that the situation around journalists’ safety in this country continues worsening
Interpreter Andrei Mironov and photographer Andrea Rocchelli

Interpreter Andrei Mironov and photographer Andrea Rocchelli

VIENNA, May 25. /ITAR-TASS/. OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic demanded from Kiev authorities to investigate the circumstances of death of an Italian reporter and his interpreter in Ukraine.
Dunja Mijatovic called on the authorities to carry out a quick and thorough investigation of their deaths’ circumstances and to establish the culprits, according to a statement issued by the organization.
The media freedom representative has also expressed condolences to the victims’ relatives, noting that the situation around journalists’ safety in Ukraine continues worsening. Mijatovic said these deaths were a horrible reminder that not enough efforts were being made to protect the lives of journalists covering the conflict in Ukraine. She recalled that she repeatedly expressed concerns over the situation with the safety of journalists, but it continues deteriorating.

The incident with the Italian journalist

Rocchelli, 30, was specializing in “trouble spots” across the world. He made photo reports from Afghanistan, Libya and Algeria.
On Saturday, the Ukrainian media reported that Rocchelli together with his French colleague William Rongulson and interpreter Andrei Mironov had come under mortar fire in the south of Sloviansk surrounded by the Ukrainian military.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini requested the Ukrainian authorities on Sunday to clarify the circumstances, in which Italian photographer Andy Rocchelli had been killed in the east Ukrainian city of Sloviansk.
“We’re requesting you to clarify within the shortest time possible the circumstances of the attack that killed an Italian citizen,” the Italian minister of foreign affairs said in an official statement.

Other voices....


i don’t know whether the RT staff spent all day praying in church or what, but here they are with some sort of mini timeline regarding the fucking massacres that are going on behind the news blackout

LIVE UPDATES (not so live, actually, and I have omitted the weasel “self-proclaimed” that these obscene termuse to indicate that Russia under Putin has given the Kiev Nazis permission to kill as many people as they like – RB), May 25 2014
15:48 GMT: Members of the district election committee in Novoaydar, Lugansk Region, were reportedly shot for refusing to open the polling station, said a member of the press service of the Lugansk People’s Republic. He told RIA Novosti:
Our commandant reported that in Novoaydar the ‘Dnepr’ squad shot the committee members who refused to open the polling station.
15:07 GMT: Kiev military shelled a café on Sunday near Novoaydar in Lugansk Region, an official from the administration of the Lugansk People’s Republic told RIA Novosti. He said:
They shelled a café with civilians. There are killed and wounded.