20 Foreign Affairs Committees denounce Russia’s presidential elections

Twenty Chairmen of Foreign Affairs Committees from North America and Europe made a joint statement March 14, emphasising that the forthcoming presidential elections in Russia would be neither free nor fair, and would be marred by a comprehensive crackdown on the opposition and independent media, and that they consider conducting elections in Ukraine's occupied territories as entirely illegitimate and something that would not be recognized by the international community.

The Chairmen of Foreign Affairs Committees state that nearly a decade has elapsed since the unlawful seizure of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia, and we are currently two years into Russia’s full-scale and vicious onslaught against Ukraine “Amid the ongoing war, that has taken a heavy toll on Ukrainian lives and brought about vast human suffering and destruction, Russia is orchestrating a so-called election to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Crimea's illegal annexation, in a clear act of provocation. Russia intends to extend these elections to the territories it has occupied and illegally annexed in Ukraine, in what appears to be an attempt to legitimize its temporary occupation of Ukrainian territory,” they write.

They note that since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Russia has notably intensified its suppression of political dissent, and throttled the freedom of media, and civil liberties, by further squashing any opposition, including criminalizing expressions anti-war sentiment. Prospective anti-war candidates are being barred from participating in March 2024 Russia's presidential elections, deplore the Chairmen.

“There’s no longer any room for civic or political opposition in Russia. The Russian government, especially under Putin, is not held accountable for egregious violations of human rights and political repressions, including the assassination of leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny, questioning Putin's legitimacy in both domestic and international fora. Regardless of these despicable crimes, most Russian citizens continue to support Putin’s regime and the illegal war of aggression against Ukraine,” they remark.

The Chairmen believe that the forthcoming presidential elections in Russia will neither be free or fair, and will be marred by a comprehensive crackdown on the opposition and independent media. They also see these suffering from a complete absence of legitimate alternatives and a lack of international oversight, that will render an outcome devoid of any semblance of democratic validity.

The Chairmen emphasise that conducting elections in Ukraine's temporarily occupied and illegally annexed regions is a stark breach of international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter, and Ukraine's inalienable independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. “We unequivocally reject the legitimacy of the elections being conducted by Russia in the occupied Ukrainian territories. Such actions by Russia on Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory are entirely illegitimate and will not be recognized by the international community,” they pronounce.

“We stand in solidarity with Ukraine, affirming its full independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity within its recognized international borders, including Crimea, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk,” they declare in their statement, where they denounce Russia's imperialistic actions and its ongoing aggression against Ukraine.

They also reiterate the need for continued comprehensive support for Ukraine from the EU, its Member States, and allies globally, that encompass political, economic, financial, and military aid, as well as assistance for civil society and the reconstruction of the country. “This support stands as a critical countermeasure against the Kremlin's oppressive and aggressive regime.”

The statement was signed by Rihards Kols on behalf of Latvia.

Full text of the Joint Statement in English.

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