DONETSK, Ukraine, Oct 30 (Reuters) – On a campaign trip, the
leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic lit
candles at a Russian Orthodox Church and kissed icons of Jesus
and the Virgin Mary before dashing off to meet about 100 voters
in a local factory.
There, the barrel-chested 38-year-old former mine
electrician Alexander Zakharchenko assured voters that he wanted
pensions to be “higher than in Poland”. The elderly should have
enough money to “travel to Australia at least once a year to
shoot a dozen kangaroos on Safari”, he said.
VOLNOVAKHA Ukraine (Reuters) – Voters in eastern Ukraine had one thing on their mind as they voted in Sunday’s parliamentary election: an end to months of conflict between pro-Russian separatists and government forces.
“Peace is the only thing people want here,” said a 57-year-old woman, who gave her name only as Yelena, after voting in Volnovakha, in territory held by Kiev’s troops about 50 km (30 miles) south of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk.
NOVOTROITSKE Ukraine (Reuters) – Standing at the village polling station where she will oversee Ukraine’s parliamentary election on Sunday, Irina Sobko points across a field of wilted sunflowers to a town controlled by Russian-backed rebels where she says there won’t be any voting.
“We’re Ukraine’s last polling station, the front line, so to speak,” said Sobko, 53, who is on the election committee at one of three polling stations in the pro-Kiev village of Novotroitske in eastern Ukraine.
SPARTAK, Ukraine, Oct 21 (Reuters) – Waiting for a lull in
fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels,
Nikolai Batyshchev ventures out with his chainsaw and
wheelbarrow to collect firewood to fend off the damp autumn
Left without natural gas or power due to fighting over
nearby Donetsk airport, Batyshchev and his neighbours are
guarding not only against mortar bombs that have pounded their
village of Spartak, but also the approaching Ukrainian winter.
MOSCOW, Oct 17 (Reuters) – At the height of the uprising by
pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine this summer, a handful of
human rights workers recorded that Russian soldiers had been
killed on the battlefield, even though the Kremlin said its
troops were never there.
It was typical work for activists from the group Memorial,
which has emerged since the fall of the Soviet Union as Russia’s
most important human rights organisation mainly by taking notes.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev has warned Western leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin against dragging the world into a new version of the Cold War he helped to end a quarter of a century ago.
Gorbachev, recently in hospital, voiced his disquiet in a newspaper interview at the current standoff over Ukraine, which has prompted the United States and European Union to impose sanctions on Russia, and Moscow to retaliate by banning most Western food imports.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed leader promised a tough response on Monday to a suicide bombing that killed five policemen, shattering a period of relative calm in the turbulent North Caucasus region.
Sunday’s attack, in which 12 police were also wounded, hit the entrance to a concert hall in the Chechen capital, Grozny, where festivities had been planned to celebrate a local holiday, which was also the birthday of Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – A suicide bomber killed at least five police officers and wounded 12 others on Sunday during festivities for a local holiday in Grozny, the capital of Russia’s troubled North Caucasus region of Chechnya, Russian news agencies reported.
The site of two separatist wars and a festering Islamic insurgency, Chechnya has seen a period of relative calm under the strong-arm rule of Moscow-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov, and suicide bombings have been a rare occurrence in recent years.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Six months after Crimea voted to become part of Russia, elation could give way to discontent over problems such as power and water shortages, the government official responsible for the region said.
“Euphoria cannot be eternal,” Crimean Affairs Minister Oleg Savelyev said in an interview at the Reuters Russia Investment Summit.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia threatened to send more troops to its newly-annexed territory of Crimea on Tuesday, after NATO began exercises in western Ukraine while Kiev’s forces are fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the escalation of tensions in Ukraine and the presence of foreign military near Russia’s borders made the deployment of troops a top priority in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March.