The United States congratulates the people of Ukraine for exercising their right to vote in the first round of local elections.
“Ukraine’s democracy,” said State Department spokesperson John Kirby, “remains resilient despite facing difficult economic conditions and Russia’s action in Ukraine, including the occupation of Crimea.”
According to initial reports from international observers, these elections largely reflected the will of the Ukrainian people and general respect for the democratic process.
These local elections are an important step for Ukraine as it continues to move forward with difficult reforms to decentralize political power. This decentralization is shifting more decision-making and budgetary powers down from the capital in Kiev to local communities.
The United States looks forward to a successful second round of elections on November 15 for those mayoral races where no single candidate received a majority of the votes.
“We further expect that those in Mariupol and other areas where voting could not take place to get a chance to exercise their franchise on November 15,” said Mr. Kirby.
In the wake of Russia’s move to illegally annex Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, Russian-backed separatists staged an uprising in eastern Ukraine. For the past 17 months they have been fighting Ukrainian government forces, who are attempting to dislodge them from the Donbas. As a result, some 8,000 people were killed, and well over 2 million have been displaced, about 1.4 million of them internally.
The United States hopes that citizens living in the conflict zone, internally displaced persons, and refugees will soon have the opportunity to exercise their right to choose their leaders, in compliance with Ukrainian law and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s standards and as called for in the Minsk agreements.