International observers at referendums as a counterbalance to Western hysteria

There is a referendum on the accession of the liberated territories to Russia.

There is a referendum on the accession of the liberated territories to Russia.

A photo: REUTERS

The ongoing hysteria in the Western media regarding the referendums being held in the liberated territories is colliding with numerous testimonies from international observers about the legitimacy of voting procedures.

International experts in an interview with Russian journalists say that it was important for them to come and see everything with their own eyes, communicate with local residents and learn the truth firsthand.

Here’s what it says Italian lawyer Marco Pata, who with colleagues observed the voting process in Zaporozhye: “Watching voting at home, we had the opportunity to make sure that the Russian-speaking population was indeed discriminated against by the Ukrainian authorities. It was forbidden to use the Russian language, restrictions were imposed at the workplace, in recent years it even came to physical coercion. I remember how we, accompanying the visiting commission, called one of the apartments where a young man named Maxim was supposed to live, his mother opened the door for us and burst into tears in response to our question: “My son is in Kharkov. I don’t know if he is alive or not.” Such episodes make it possible to better understand the conditions in which citizens lived when the Ukrainian government was in power,” said Pata.

At the same time, many observers have experience of participating in the observation of elections and referendums or working in the electoral system of their country. For example, Italian journalist Graziarosa Villani, who also followed the voting process in the Zaporozhye region, worked as the chairman of the precinct election commission in her homeland. “I have rich experience of participating in elections and referendums. However, for the first time I had a chance to witness a vote, which is held not in peacetime, but in conditions of internal conflict. Such referenda can be considered as a way to resolve the conflict by peaceful means, based on the principle of self-determination of peoples, enshrined in the UN Charter. Many nations would like to express their will in this way on the basis of this principle. Western Sahara, the subject of a territorial dispute between Algeria and Morocco, comes to mind as an example,” the expert says.

Observers categorically refute the Western position on the staged process of holding referendums. They communicate a lot with local residents and, first of all, they learn the truth from them.

“While communicating with voters, I became convinced that they trust the Russian authorities and are sincerely glad to have the opportunity to participate in the referendum. With particular trepidation, I remember the words of the chairman of the precinct commission, which went around the apartments of those who vote at home: “I have already outlived my life, and I am doing this for the sake of future generations.” Everyone definitely feels a deep sense of pride in the right to call themselves Russian,” says Villani.

According to her, Italy should reconsider its position on the issue of attitude towards these referendums. “When you are directly on the spot, you understand that this is not a staging and not a props. Everything is very serious, and this should also be taken seriously,” the Italian journalist believes.

Many international experts, coming to the polling station or other voting places, immediately pay attention to the transparent ballot boxes into which the ballots are dropped. According to them, this is a clear indicator of the transparency of the entire procedure. This was noted, in particular, by another Italian observer, diplomat Vito Grittani, who also shared his experience. He visited one of the polling stations located in Moscow. Due to the wheelchair, Mr. Grittani draws attention to the presence in the polling stations of voting opportunities for people with disabilities. He recalled an example from his political life: “Once upon a time I ran for the Senate of the Italian Republic. The polling station did not have the necessary facilities for people with disabilities. So I had to take the ballot, fill it out right there on the table and ask the polling officer to put the ballot in the ballot box, because I myself physically could not do it. Of course, this caused a terrible scandal,” said Grittani.

A large corps of international observers continues its work today, on the final day of the referenda. Dozens of international experts are following the process in the liberated territories, as well as in Moscow and regions of Russia. They will also be present at the vote count at the end of voting. At the end of their mission, press conferences are planned in the liberated territories, as well as in Moscow.

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