The community organisation 'Opora' has published its fifth monitoring report on the Ukrainian election campaign and violations of electoral law.

Key violations included:

  • use of official resources for party political campaigning
  • bribing prospective voters
  • incidents preventing legitimate campaigning by opposing parties or candidates
  • illegal forms of campaigning
  • violence or excessive force against opponents.

Many examples of violations have already been documented: in various areas, members of parliament have been issuing food parcels to constituents under the guise of 'presents' for various occasions; party flags have been displayed on administrative buildings, sometimes alongside the Ukrainian flag; children starting school were given party-branded 'greetings' cards highlighting what the government had done for education, and free travel tickets for socially disadvanted groups with party branding.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Opora has documented the highest number of violations amongst Party of the Regions candidates - 188 so far, with independent candidates in first-past-the-post constituencies in second place with 47 violations. The Opora report concludes that their findings show that the government's declared aim of holding transparent, free and fair elections is unlikely to be met - particularly since there appears to be no enthusiasm for prosecuting those who breach electoral law. Only one case of bribery has gone through the courts - in Odesa.

A particular concern raised, not just by Opora, but others, has been the process of choosing local electoral commissions, who are responsible for operating polling station and counting the votes. Political parties, including minority 'technical' parties (which are formed to support another party, and parties with only one candidate nominated their candidates for local commissions and the Central Electoral Commission then chose the members by drawing names at random. The result has been that the Party of the Regions and minority parties have gained the overwhelming majority of places on local electoral commissions, while larger parties, including Klitshko's party 'Udar' and 'Svoboda' have none.

Prime Minister Azarov has given huge publicity to his initiative to instal webcams in each polling station at equally huge cost and has said that this will ensure free and fair elections. Webcams, however, do nothing to prevent the violations and unfairness which is already becoming apparent. The integrity of the electoral process has already been compromised and, as always, it is the government and the authorities who have the responsibility of dealing with the issues raised by Opora and others. If the government is serious about the democratic process, it needs to act decisively - and now.

To read the Opora report, (only in Ukrainian), click here.

Ukrayinska Dumka


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