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EU could agree that Russian presidential ‘elections’ in temporarily occupied Ukraine are not legitimate – Zatlers

The European Union (EU) could agree that the Russian presidential ”elections” in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine are not legitimate, former President Valdis Zatlers told LETA.

In his opinion, it is necessary to take into account the fact that it is difficult to draw a line between who voted in the occupied territories and who voted in Russia. In Zatlers’ view, this is practically impossible to do, as it is possible that the local population are also ”occupiers”.

“Russia is colonizing Ukraine. For 50 years this happened in Latvia. The country had troops in it from a foreign country and an occupation administration. In fact, this was colonization. If we remember history, before the First World War, Germany also had plans to colonize Courland. This is not a simple matter. We have to say loudly that Russian law does not work in the occupied territories, so ‘elections’ are not legal,” the former President stressed.

Asked whether the Russian presidential “elections” could be considered legitimate at all, Zatlers explained that when the war started, it was clear that it would not end in a few weeks. The former Latvian President pointed out that there were three scenarios: no elections at all, a fight for the presidency, or Putin rallying the majority of society around him and being the only candidate without any chance of losing the “elections”. Zatlers points out that the third scenario has now come true, but the first and second could just as easily have happened.

“There will be no miracles. Putin realized in the 2011 presidential “election”, which he almost lost, that he had to “push aside” his rivals by physical force, by intimidation. Anyone who could potentially stand up to Putin must be killed. It does not matter whether the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, or the founder of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is killed. Putin either kills his potential rivals or puts them in prison, where they can spend the rest of their lives. Putin has done everything to become a ruthless dictator. This is the reality,” the former President concluded.

A generation will have grown up in Russia that has only seen Putin as the leader of the regime. Asked what to do with this part of society and whether it will be the generation that will be able to force the replacement of the president, Zatlers said that the question is whether this generation will like Putin or not, whether they will feel comfortable in this regime, find their place and believe that this is the best regime and the best governance that can exist. He thinks that this is also possible, but people have a craving for a sense of freedom that does not exist in Russia. Zatlers said that we do not know whether one day these people will go out into the streets and protest.

“I would like to mention that nine years after the Russian occupation, the last deportations took place in Latvia. The repressive regime of Joseph Stalin was not able to cope with the Latvian people. Understand, it is not that simple. The idea of the state, the self-consciousness, the desire to live on one’s own terms is in people’s heads. Problems arise when all this disappears from people’s thoughts. That is why we cannot have any doubt. We have done many good things in the past 30 years. We must not doubt, we must be proud of what we have accomplished,” the former President said.

Theoretically, there is a possibility that the Baltic States could agree and not recognize the Russian presidential “election”. In practice, this could mean that there would be no communication at presidential level. Zatlers stressed that there is no communication already now. He asked rhetorically when was the last time Putin met a European leader – this was with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in China.

“The Baltic countries could agree and I think other countries would agree. It would be a positive gain to get off the wave of pessimism that Ukraine might not be doing as well as we would like in its war with Russia. If we look at Russia’s ‘success’ in the war, the capture of Avdiivka is hardly a victory. Of course, propaganda can present it as a victory,” said the former President.

He stressed that nothing has been lost in Ukraine and there are no signs that Ukraine will lose. Zatlers revealed that he is optimistic that Ukraine will achieve its goals, but that Russia will not. He pointed out that Russia had a colonial goal of seizing territories and that Russian thinking had not changed since the 18th century.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)

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