Elections 2015 and ‘inconvenient’ IDPs: thoughts aloud
At least 1.2 million persons failed to express their will at the local elections in Ukraine held on October 25, according to the OPORA civil network. October 7, the Parliament of Ukraine did not have the quorum to choose one of three bills that would eliminate discrimination against the internally displaced persons.
The IDPs told the Human Rights Information Centre why their right to vote is important for them and Ukraine.
Bohdan Korniyenko, software developer, IDP from Feodosia (Crimea)
The right to expression of will is guaranteed to each citizen of Ukraine by the Constitution. I consider it expedient to be able to exercise this right no matter what part of the country I live in now. If the current government has no time to help me in this, then I need this right to change this government.
Oleh Lomovytsky, carpenter, IDP from Alchevsk (Luhansk region)
I am a citizen of this country, so I should have the right to choose anyway. It’s my freedom.
Back in Alchevsk, I was very indignant when I had not been allowed to vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections. I have always exercised my right to vote.
I talk with many IDPs, who have moved. They are mostly patriots. Perhaps I have such a circle of friends. They are mostly liberals, who do not support the forces like the Opposition Bloc. The people, who support such parties, have either moved to Russia or have stayed in the occupied territories waiting for the better life.
We burnt fingers. We have seen the war and we understand what it results in. Therefore we cannot make the wrong choice.
Viktoriya Yermolaeva, journalist of the Public Radio, IDP from Kerch (Crimea)
I have failed to vote, and it’s really frustrating for me. I consider myself to be the patriot of my country. I left Crimea after the pseudo-referendum18 months ago for the sake of Ukraine.
Besides that my country recognized me as a non-resident despite the fact I pay taxes, I was forbidden to vote.
The right to vote is one of the fundamental human rights. Therefore, it is unacceptable to deprive an IDP of the voting right.
Any choice of a person is their right. No matter whom the IDPs vote for as it is their choice and duty to show their expression of will to the country.
Personally I would not have voted for the pro-Russian parties, but if a person wants to vote for them, he or she has to show the choice to the country.
Volodymyr Fomichev, analyst of the movement “Strong communities of Donetsk region”, IDP from Makiyivka (Donetsk region)
The problem is not just in discrimination. There is a kind of fake paternalism in Ukraine, i.e. the state wants to provide the IDPs with some help just giving money. The financial assistance to the internally displaced persons amounts to UAH 422 per month. It is actually one social contribution from a citizen of Ukraine.
I think that the IDPs should be integrated without providing them with financial assistance, which is very small, but, for example, to secure their normal civil rights such as the right to vote in elections.
I don’t need financial assistance from the state, but I want to be a full-fledged citizen of the state, that is, to have the voting right in the community where I live now.
I pay taxes in Kyiv and I don’t understand why I was not given the right to vote.
Nina Novikova, massage therapist, student of the Ukrainian Catholic University, IDP from Alchevsk (Luhansk region)
When the IDPs are not given the right to vote in local elections, society splits. First, a person feels he or she is considered to be different from others. I do not want to stand aside!
I do not like the word “IDP”, I do not like the word “refugee”. I didn’t run away from anywhere. I am a citizen of Ukraine and I am Ukrainian by nationality. I’m in my country. I didn’t move to Poland, Italy or Russia. I’m in my country. And I respect the land of my ancestors.
Olena Hlazunova, head of sales at the company manufacturing ultrastrong metals, IDP from Donetsk
If an IDP moves to the occupied territory, the Ukrainian legislation makes him or her register the business at the place of actual residence. There are even such cases when the Ukrainian companies refuse to work with the companies which are officially registered in the occupied territories, even though we pay taxes and submit all records to the Ukrainian budget and do not pay a penny to the “DPR.”
If we pay taxes to the local budgets and they are spent on local needs, then why cannot I influence how the taxes will be used then?
The whole democratic world is based on the process when people gather, consult and choose by a majority vote a member, whom we trust to manage our taxes.
The people, whom we choose, are the managers of our will, will of the people who pay taxes. Democracy is the voice of the people.
Many are afraid that former Donetsk residents will vote for the forces that led to the war. But the right to vote is the main feature of democracy. If we do not have the right to vote, then there is no democracy.
It’s not our fault if we have been forced to have no opportunity to vote in the area, where we were registered. This conflict is not the conflict of the people, but the conflict of the authorities, which allowed it. The authorities should have exercised my rights. The democracy is when the people give powers to the authorities, not vice versa.
Since this region breaks away from the Ukrainian context, more attention should be paid and the positive image of the state should be built. Unfortunately, the radical parties in Ukraine do not promote the positive image of Ukraine. Then, of course, people may be afraid of them as in fact some pro-Ukrainian forces are free to describe the people who live in Donetsk as separatists.
If Ukraine declares that Donbas is Ukrainian, then people residing there cannot be named separatists in any case. Do you know, what thoughts they live with? Maybe they will regret all their life they have believed in “Russian spring.” Children are the same story. If you call children stupid, they will believe that. And it will be the leitmotif of their life.