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Ukrainian PM Warns Of Russian Destabilization In Elections

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk gestures during a meeting with students at Ivan Franko National University in Lviv on October 21.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is warning that Russia could attempt to disrupt Ukraine's parliamentary elections scheduled for October 26.

Yatsenyuk told a meeting of top security officials and election monitors on October 23 that "It is absolutely clear that attempts to destabilize the situation will continue and will be provoked by Russia."

Yatsenyuk said that "we are in a state of Russian aggression and we have before us one more challenge: to hold parliamentary elections."

The prime minister said Ukraine needs the "full mobilization of the entire law-enforcement system to prevent violations of the election process and attempts at terrorist acts during the elections."

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said authorities have ordered some 82,000 police officers on duty for election day.

He said 4,000 members of a special reaction force would be among those maintaining order during polling hours and would be concentrated in "those precincts where there is a risk of some terrorist acts or aggressive actions by some...candidates."

The warning by Yatsenyuk comes on the heels of three violent attacks on parliamentary candidates in the past week.

The latest, against Volodymyr Borysenko, a member of Yatsenyuk's People's Front Party, occurred on October 20 when Borysenko was shot at and had an explosive thrown at him.

He allegedly survived the attack only because he was wearing body armor due to numerous death threats he had recently received.

Elections to the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament, will be held despite continued fighting in the eastern part of the country between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Voting will not take place in 14 districts of eastern Ukraine currently under the control of the separatists.

Those separatist-held areas -- in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions -- are planning on holding their own elections in November.

Additionally, Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in March means the loss of 12 seats from the 450-seat parliament.

Polls show President Petro Poroshenko's party leading with some 30 percent of respondents saying they would cast their vote for the Petro Poroshenko Bloc.

A similar vote tally would mean Poroshenko's bloc would have a chance to form a coalition government, likely with nationalist groups who oppose conducting peace talks over fighting in the east.

Interfax quoted Poroshenko as saying in Odesa on October 23: "I'm sure that Ukraine will be sovereign and independent and nothing will threaten its territorial integrity. It won't be a frozen conflict because Donbas" -- a reference to the Donetsk and Luhansk areas where pro-Russian separatists maintain control of swaths of land -- "won't survive without Ukraine."

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax