November 18, 2017

On September 18, election to the State Duma – the supreme state legislative body is going to be held in Russia. One would think why does it matter? Parliamentary elections are held in all the states. However, the forthcoming Russian elections have particular feature – Russia is going to hold elections in Crimea and Sebastopol unlawfully annexed by it in February 2014. In other words, Moscow is going to hold elections on the occupied territories of Ukraine. That infringes the fundamental rules of international law and puts into question the legitimacy of the majority of the new composition of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

State government’s decision to hold elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation on the territory of Crimea is unlawful which is confirmed by a range of international documents. It is known that the UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/68/262 “On territorial integrity of Ukraine” adopted on March 27, 2014 does not accept the status change of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sebastopol city. As provided by the Hague Regulations which is the supplement to the Hague Convention on Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1907 aggressor state shall respect the laws in force in the country which it occupied. It is forbidden to compel the inhabitants of occupied territory to swear allegiance to the hostile power and the nationals’ rights shall be respected. According to Geneva Convention pertaining to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War as of 12 August 1949, no physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against persons within the occupied territory. This document provides that elections to the authorities of the respective state shall not be held within the occupied territory. According to Geneva Convention, occupation means also occupation met with no resistance from the state which was occupied. This is a case of Crimea.

Today political situation in occupied Crimea may be defined by repressions reinforcement, especially in respect of the indigenous population of the peninsula – Crimean Tatars which make it useless to speak about any electoral competition. Thus, if elections yet take place, then the deputies from Crimea will be twice illegitimate as they will possess neither legal nor political rights to represent the Crimea population.

The logical question arises whether the majority of the State Duma of the Russian Federation would be legitimate given that it is elected with account of the votes of occupied Crimea and Sebastopol. It is known that the constitutional composition of State Duma includes 450 deputies. The new electoral law provides parallel system for the forthcoming elections instead of the strictly proportional. It means that half of the deputies shall be elected on majority constituencies and the other half – on party rolls. There are 225 majority constituencies, and 4 of them are located within Crimea and Sebastopol. The other 225 deputies are elected on the proportional system and here the votes of Crimea and Sebastopol shall be also considered. Therefore, when we take 225 elected deputies on proportional basis and add four on majority basis we get 229 – the majority of 450. Therefore, infringing the provisions of international law which prevail over the national legislation the Russian occupation authority delegitimize not only the elections in the occupied Crimea and Sebastopol but the elections to the State Duma of the seventh calling as a whole. In such case de facto the only legitimate representative of the state is the President. While the head of the State Duma of Russia shall be considered as a person which call itself a speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

Grave danger lies in the bottom of holding elections to the State Duma in Crimea and Sebastopol. Having launched a hybrid war against Ukraine and against the whole world community in its name, the Russian clique is determined to give the hybrid nature to the parliamentary institutions of respectful international structures – the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the Council of the Baltic Sea States – due to the presence of illegitimate deputies. Russia will look forward to show the deputies from Crimea at the international scene joining them to the delegations attached to the parliamentary assemblies as well as at the bilateral level. And here is the question, how would Ukraine, its partners, Western states and their leaders behave? If they accept such state of affairs, then they implicitly recognize annexation of the Crimean peninsula which was contested by Putin.

In terms of the elections in Crimea, Ukraine holds clear and strict position. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the respective note and declaration. On the parliamentary session of the 8th of September the Ukrainian Parliament adopted the resolution-address to the parliamentarians of foreign states, parliamentary assemblies and international organizations calling to hold back from participation in illegal poll monitoring in occupied Crimea and refrain from accepting the elections in any case. Besides it, the resolution states that foreigners who will come to the occupied territory in order to monitor the illegal poll shall be subjected to criminal proceedings for violation of entry regulations on the occupied territory in order to inflict harm to the national interests of Ukraine.

The moment came when halftones and half truth in assessment of forthcoming Russian elections used for reasons of political correctness and diplomacy may play a low-down trick with international institutions turning them into hybrid formations. If the elections to the State Duma are held on the occupied territory, then only unanimous declaring them illegal as well as declaring the new composition of the State Duma of the Russian Federation illegitimate shall let the international organizations keep their front going and stay authoritative and efficient force in international policy.

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