Russia-backed separatists plan to hold local elections in the self-proclaimed People's Republics of Luhansk (LNR) and Donetsk (DNR) on Sunday, November 11, to select a new president and Members of Parliament. While these elections are supported by Russia, they have been widely condemned by the US and the EU, who consider the process as undermining the commitments made under the Minsk agreements. Protests and counter-protests surrounding these local elections are possible throughout the country, along with continued clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces.
The holding of local elections was decided after Donetsk separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko was killed by a bomb on August 31. They are perceived by many international observers as contrary to the spirit of the Minsk agreements decided upon in 2014 and 2015, which authorizes the holding of local elections following prior negotiations between LNR, DNR and the Ukrainian government.
Clashes between Ukrainian state forces and Russian-backed separatists continue on a regular basis despite a number of ceasefire agreements made since 2014. According to the UN, more than 10,300 people have died since the eastern Ukraine conflict erupted in April 2014, soon after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. The fighting has displaced more than 1.6 million people. The separatists remain in control of a large swath of territory in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, which are mainly Russian-speaking regions. Ukraine has designated the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) as a terrorist organization.
Due to the ongoing conflict, many Western governments advise against travel to the far east of Ukraine, including the cities of Donetsk, Horlivka, Makiyivka, Mariupol, and Luhansk.