26.10.2004 | Inna Sukhorukova, Kharkov

Beginning of election campaign in Kharkov


The very beginning of presidential election campaign resembles a clown show. Yet, it would be very funny, if it would not be so sad and shameful. It is shameful for representatives of power, public figures, for managers of enterprises and state establishments. It is shameful to look into the eyes of young people, who grew in the post-Soviet time and do not know how to protect themselves from such cynical actions of the power, from the barefaced lie, which flows from radio and TV sets.

On 14 July the meeting-concert was organized in Kharkov for the support of the only candidate from power, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich. The citizens, who gathered to this meeting, did not conceal from correspondents of local mass media that they were forced to come there. Some bosses promised premiums or extra days off to their workers, and some – threatened those, who did not want to go to the meeting, with not-rendering of leave or even dismissal. Naturally, nobody complained to trade unions. Everybody, who came to this meeting, had to register in the corresponding lists. Many of them left the meeting at last after the registration. The impression made by this shameless humiliation on people is demonstrated by the fact that they were not afraid to express their indignation in front of TV cameras. Maybe the authorities hope that that the coercively gathered people will unanimously vote for the only pro-power candidate? Well, as the saying goes, “God deliver me from fools”… And, maybe, the officials gather such crowds not only for demonstration of their devotion to the future President, but with some other goals too? For instance, in the case of mass falsification of the election results, they would have the opportunity to say to the Western observers: “But you saw, how many people endorsed Viktor Yanukovich”.

Now the next stage has begun – the collection of signatures in the support of candidates. In Kharkov everybody, who is influenced by the power, were involved in this process. The work is well coordinated. Every enterprise, educational establishment, policlinic, communal enterprises and even private firms got the orders about the number of signatures for Yanukovich, which should be collected.

Here are some cases that occurred with the members of our organization – the Kharkov group for human rights protection.

Two women came to our colleague, by the way, a human rights protector with more that 40 years of experience, and asked to sign in the support of Yanukovich. When our colleague asked, why the data about the person collecting signatures were not included in the list (as it is demanded by Article 54 and 55 of the Law of Ukraine “On election of the President of Ukraine”), she got the answer that she could learn these data in the Kyivskiy district executive committee. Our colleague drove away the unlucky agitators. Yet, several days later other people came to her with the same entreaty, and again without the property filled list for signatures. This time these were the teachers of the neighboring school, who complained that they had been called from the leaves and made to collect some concrete quantity of signatures in the support of Yanukovich. But even these piteous teachers did not soften the position of our colleague and they went away without any results.

The collectors of signatures for Yanukovich found another our colleague in a polyclinic, where the pregnant young woman turned for consultation. The lady-doctor timidly asked to sign the list, explaining that she was going to vote for Viktor Yushchenko, but the head physician ordered her to collect signatures for the candidate from power. Persuading our colleague the doctor said that, of course, she could vote for anybody she wanted, but in such way she would render a service to the doctor. Perhaps, the length of work in human rights protection organization is important, because the young women agreed to sign the list.

And, finally, a most glaring example! Mykola P., a member of one of the parties, which is a part of the bloc “Our Ukraine”, a worker of one of large Kharkov enterprises, the plant “Kommunar”, turned to our group. He told that the administration of the plant forced the workers, mainly timekeepers and superintendents of workshops and departments, to collect signatures in support of V. Yanukovich. It is obvious that such organization of the collection of signatures must result in absolute absurd. Well, this happened at “Kommunar”. Head of one of the departments proposed his subordinates to sign in support of Yanukovich, saying that he would not be let to leave until he would collect 50 signatures. It should be noted that there was no brutal pressure on the side of the department head: he also felt some discomfort. Somebody signed, and somebody refused to do that. Yet, the head got a phone call from a worker of an unknown human rights protecting organization (this was our Mykola P.), who explained to the department head that he violated items 6 and 7 of Article 55 of the Law “On election of the President of Ukraine”, as well as Articles 364 and 365 of the Criminal Code. The effect was immediate: the collection of signatures was ceased, and the scared department head tore the already filled lists.

Yet, we have the impression that the power actively prepares to the election process too, for example, they want to know beforehand, who will not come to the election stations, who and how is going to vote. A translator of the Kharkov group for human rights protection, who lives in the Dzerzinski district of Kharkov, was visited by two girls, who explained that they were carrying out the sociological poll: for which candidate the dwellers were going to vote. The girls could not present any documents, but told that the poll was organized by the Dzerzinski district executive committee. When our colleague remarked that a sociological poll should be anonymous, the girls answered that they would be dismissed, if they would not bring these lists. Yet, for what the executive committee needs such data? No laws envisage the collection of such data.

Even if there are some people, who really endorse Yanukovich, and, naturally, there are such people in Kharkov, since the power again, like at the election-1994, play the “Russian card”, does Viktor Yanukovich need such support “under the lash”? About which trust of people one can say in such case?

And our medics and teachers? When they will stop to be slaves and bear all these humiliations? The state has done “so much” for these categories of citizens! Let us recollect the veto interposed by President Kuchma on the law on payment of arrears to teachers!

Well, we deserved all this. And we must do something, but not only criticize the power: at least, to refuse to go to a meeting or to sign for a candidate that does not seem to be worthy of that.

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