EU voices concern over Ukrainian vote count


Just days after the parliamentary election in Ukraine, EU officials in Brussels expressed “increased concern” over the vote count, while the opposition denounced a series of falsifications.

The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Štefan Füle said they had “followed closely” the vote count following the 28 October election.

While the vote generally took place in normal conditions, the tabulation – or the transfer of the results from individual constituencies to higher level authorities – has raised questions among international observers.

The EU officials expressed concern that five days after polls closed, the consolidated results were still not announced. Ashton and Füle urged the authorities and all parties involved “to take the necessary steps to finalise the tabulation allowing for the rapid announcement of the final results, which should reflect the genuine will of the Ukrainian voters”.

With most of the votes counted, the ruling Party of Regions won 30.01% of the vote, the United Opposition, 25.52%, the UDAR movement of boxer Vitali Klitschko 13.95%, the Communist Party 13.18% and the ultra-nationalist Svoboda party 10.44%.

No winners determined in nine constituencies

On Saturday, six days after the election, no winners had been determined in nine single-member election constituencies due to the problems with tabulation and litigation.

In Kyiv, a representative of the Party of Regions, Ihor Lysov, was challenging the victory of a candidate of the Batkivschyna All-Ukrainian Union, Serhiy Teriokhin, in court. On Friday, the Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal confirmed a lower court's ruling obliging the district election commission to recount votes at more than 40 polling stations of the constituency.

In Pervomaisk (Mykolaiv region), riot police were called in due to confrontations between supporters of the two leading candidates, the Kyiv Post reported.

The Central Election Commission first said that opposition candidate Arkadiy Kornatsky won with 39.66% of the vote, while his opponent, the Party of Regions member, Vitaliy Travianko, took 34.09%. However, the CEC later released new figures showing that Travianko had beaten Kornatsky.

The Mykolaiv District Administrative Court refused to verify the data of the vote count protocol and decided that a recount should be conducted by the district election commission. At the same time, the commission still cannot start the recount and approve the final report, since its head Vasyl Mykytiuk disappeared along with the commission's seal on 2 November.

Opposition cries foul

Both the Batkivshyna party of imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Vitaly Klitschko’s UDAR called the elections rigged.

Batkivshyna officials said in a statement that the verdict was confirmed by a parallel vote count conducted by the Spilna Sprava (Common Cause) NGO. Its coordinator Oleksandr Danyliuk said that the NGO’s count revealed that independent candidates and those from the opposition led in several majority constituencies, in which candidates from the ruling party were declared winners by the CEC.

Danyliuk said that falsifications took place in Vinnytsia, Khmelnytsky, Zhytomyr, Poltava, Kirovohrad, and Cherkasy regions. He said that the falsification techniques were similar to those registered in a number of Kyiv constituencies, in particular the correction of vote count protocols by district election commissions.

Ukraine’s largest election monitor, OPORA, was critical of the tabulation and transmission of results from the district election commissions. Its observers recorded numerous procedural violations including “taking stamps outside polling stations, which is prohibited by law; precinct election commissions delaying the signing of the vote count protocols, etc.”

The opposition is threatening not to send its elected deputies to parliament, as a protest to the election fraud, news media reported.

In Brussels, the European Policy Centre think tank cancelled a conference dedicated to Ukraine scheduled for today (5 November).

“Due to the delay in announcing the results of the Ukrainian elections, several of the speakers have had to stay in Ukraine,” the EPC said.

The December 2011 EU-Ukraine Summit failed to initial the country's Association Agreement with the Union, largely due to the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko that Brussels sees as politically motivated.

The five-year long negotiations over the Association Agreement were concluded, but EU leaders made it clear that the deal would not be signed until improvements are made to the "quality of democracy and rule of law" in Ukraine.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy also made it clear that the country's association agreement, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, would not be signed until the parliamentary elections in Ukraine due in October 2012.

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