One of the most important divisions in Ukraine’s election landscape is that between pro-Western and pro-Kremlin political forces. Despite the protracted war with Russia and the continued occupation of Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine by Russia-supported military groups, the positions of those politicians advocating for a rapprochement with Moscow remain strong.
The leaders of the self-proclaimed “republics” in The Donbas stayed away from the election campaign until February 21, when the representatives of both the “Luhansk People’s Republic” (LPR) and the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR) broke their silence and raised concerns about the elections. Outlets in the pro-Kremlin information space quickly amplified their statements.
The DPR’s representatives announced that they had evidence that Kyiv planned to assassinate pro-Russian political leaders.
The LPR’s representatives lamented their exclusion from Ukraine’s elections. Complaining about a lack of respect for their rights, the LPR representatives reasoned, absurdly, that the region should be allowed to participate in the elections of the state against which it wages war.
Both pseudo-republics echo the line of pro-Kremlin propaganda outlets when it comes to the debate over restoring peace in The Donbas. Pasechnik claimed that Ukraine allegedly started an “indiscriminate campaign of persecution” against Ukrainian politicians who seek to restore peace.
The Kremlin-backed leader of the DPR Denis Pushilin amplified the same message, stating that the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are being destroyed, despite supposed calls for peaceful dialogue from politicians and activists. Pushilin, however, failed to name any specific incidents of the alleged destruction of the Republics. Despite the lack of facts, he blamed Western countries and NATO-backed countries for supposedly continuing provocations and ignoring the Minsk agreements (which is precisely what Russia is doing).
In line with the previously reported scaremongering, the Kremlin-controlled propaganda machine attempts to undermine support for the efforts of the current pro-Western government to restore Ukrainian control over eastern Ukraine. Kremlin-linked sources accuse President Petro Poroshenko of falsifications, bribing voters, and military escalation for the sake of his second term. The outlets portray only pro-Kremlin candidates as capable of achieving peace and stability in the country.
Statements by Moscow-sheltered Ukrainian ex-politicians and Moscow-backed separatist leaders are very much the same. Without any facts, they refer only to anonymous sources and to each other. Kremlin-backed media outlets then amplify their statements in a manner typical of pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns of the past. On the eve of Ukraine’s presidential election, these campaigns aim to tilt the situation in favor of pro-Kremlin candidates.