HE Ambassador Leigh Turner

"I'm sorry," my host says, "but quite a few people are away.  I'm not sure how big your audience will be."  In London for Christmas, I'm visiting the HQ of a major news organisation.  I've offered to give a briefing, on an unattributable background basis, on how I see the presidential election playing out.  We sit down at a large table with a handful of editors and journalists.  A couple of others drift in.  Then a couple more.  While I am speaking, more arrive.  Before long the room is full of top current affairs experts.  A subsequent discussion reveals both a high level of knowledge about Ukraine and immense interest in what will happen in the elections.

The first round of Ukraine's presidential elections will be held on 17 January.  The second round, if no-one gets 50% in the first round, will be on 7 February.  The fact foreign news organisations are interested in the elections (see eg this week's Economist) is good news for Ukraine.  One of the biggest concerns expressed by different political parties in the run-up to the election has been that one party or another might try to fix the result, or might not recognise a legitimate vote.  One of the main ways to avoid that happening, as I've blogged before, is for all parties to take into their confidence the election observers organised by the OSCE/ODIHR mission.   But close interest from the media, both inside and outside Ukraine, should also help provide checks and balances.  That's why it's terrific that many major news organisations are focusing their gaze on Ukraine, and understand the issues.  In fact, every time I see a room full of knowledgeable journalists focused on Ukraine, I sense the chances of free and fair elections next year have just risen another notch or two.

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

NOTE:  You can read all of Ambassador Turner's blogs by visiting:

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