In May 2021, I published an op-ed called "Illegal 2021 elections to Russian State Duma as threat to ‘legitimize’ occupied part of Donbas." In this article, I described in detail that the statement by the secretary of the General Council of the United Russia party, Andrei Turchak, on the possibility of residents of the occupied territories in Donbas (the so-called “DPR” and “LPR”) who have obtained Russian passports, casting doubt on the future of the State Duma itself as a legitimate and internationally recognized body. Although, this could have been the case as early as 2016, representatives from the occupied Crimea were “elected” to become Russian legislators.
And just a week ago, in my piece entitled Russian deputies launch fight for “electorate” in occupied territories, I focused on the fact that the arrival of the State Duma lawmakers, Artem Turov, Igor Stankevich, Larisa Tutova, and Alexander Borodai, led by First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots Viktor Vodolatsky, at the so-called Forum of Russian Citizens in the occupied Donbas, is nothing but campaigning for their ruling United Russia party in the occupied territories.
In fact, United Russia, which is losing popular trust across the country, is trying to offset the potential lack of votes by campaigning in the territories that it has occupied and whose residents Moscow has been forcing to obtain Russian passports. Indeed, this is a very positive signal that Ukraine has applied to the OSCE to assess the very legitimacy of the upcoming elections to the State Duma, taking into account the fact that citizens from the occupied territories are to take part in voting.
In particular, Kyiv called on the Swedish chairmanship in the OSCE, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), and the OSCE participating States to provide their assessment of Russia's involvement of residents of the occupied territories in voting in the elections to the Russian State Duma.
In turn, Russia responded rather promptly to such calls and to the initial reaction of the EU to the Russian ban on the opposition leaders to run for office, as the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on July 15 approved the report on the strategy of relations with Russia, according to which the EU must not recognize the legitimacy of the upcoming elections to the State Duma...
For example, Vladimir Dzhabarov, First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation’s Council Committee on International Affairs, has already announced that the West allegedly intends to strike a blow at the legitimacy of the State Duma elections.
In fact, the EU at this stage only expressed its position on the prohibition of opposition figures from running for office by the State Justice Department, but what about the participation in these elections of Ukrainian citizens residing in the occupied territories, who have been forced to obtain Russian passports? After all, in fact, when someone is blackmailed into getting a passport, it must be perceived as invalid. Being a resident of the occupied territory, Ukrainian citizens cannot be considered citizens of an occupying state. Moreover, the use in the elections of thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of such votes would make such polls invalid!
For the first time in history, the State Duma of the Russian Federation could actually become internationally unrecognized, with its deputies seen as rogue politicians, whom no country will officially accept, with the exception of those just as rogue as Russia – North Korea, Syria or Venezuela...
The only problem is that this non-recognition should be achieved through all available diplomatic means. Time will tell whether Ukraine has such potential. But the smoke is a harbinger of fire, as we know. The only thing needed is to pour some oil. And now the ball on the Ukrainian Presidential Office’s pitch.