Kherson oblast in the Presidential election campaign-2004: all-Ukrainian tendencies and regional peculiarities
The first months of the election campaign were characterized with the mass facts of illegal meddling of the organs of state power into the election process and, as a result, violation of the principle of equality of subjects of the election process.
In August the most frequent violations were the violations during the collection of signatures for candidate Viktor Yanukovich, which were accompanied by: a) use of power and administrative pressure on voters; b) various forms of deception and subornation of citizens; c) falsification of the lists with signatures. Other candidates almost did not conduct the collection of signatures.
The following messages were obtained by the reception office of the Kherson oblast fund of charity and health: in the Bekhterska village council of the Gola Pristan district the village headman summoned the inhabitants to his office and forced them to sign in the support of Yanukovich. Teachers, medics and workers of communal services are made to sign the lists. On 12 August the newspaper “Vgoru” published, specially for voters, the article by Oleksandr Burmagin “What is the administrative resource in reality?”
Another glaring example is the conduction of agitation for candidature of Yanukovich by state officials, for instance, Sergiy Dovgan, the head of the Kherson oblast state administration. At the forum of democratic forces, which was held in Kherson, S. Dovgan carried out the agitation for Yanukovich. Galina Bakhmatova, a member of the board of the oblast organization of the Voters Committee of Ukraine, claimed against such actions of Dovgan to the Suvorovskiy district court of Kherson. Yet, the Suvorovskiy district court did not satisfy the claim of Galina Bakhmatova against the illegal actions of the governor, motivating the decision by the argument that Sergiy Dovgan had took part in the forum as a common citizen, but not as the head of the oblast state administration.
Practically at once after the proclaiming of the court resolution, on 16 August 2004, Sergiy Dovgan, at the press conference concerning the social-economic development of the oblast, began to agitate against candidate to Presidents post Viktor Yushchenko. In what follows we will retell the description given by Svetlana Smal, a correspondent of the November “Vgoru”.
At first the governor quickly mentioned several tens of numbers, which, in his opinion, had to persuade journalists that the welfare in the Kherson oblast was increasing. He also spoke about the readiness of the region to the coming winter. Journalists exchanged surprised glances with each other: they could not understand for what the governor repeated the data that had been published in the local press.
Yet, suddenly a correspondent of the TV channel “YT-1” asked malapropos about the “fact of beating of the driver of a KAMAZ truck during Yushchenkos visit”. In spite of the fact that the investigation had not been finished, and the court had not considered the case yet, the governor revived and began to speak “concretely”: he said that all oblast organizations of the Peasants party demanded to expel Viktor Yushchenko from the election race. So, the journalists got the impression that this was not a press conference, but a specially planned action of the Peasants party against one of the candidates to Presidents post, which was conducted in the building of the oblast state administration.
All in all, Kherson mass media do not provide the unbiased elucidation of the election campaign. The information printed in the majority of mass media is biased and tendentious. For example, the newspaper “Gubernski Visti” is published in Kherson. Founder of the newspaper – the Kherson oblast charity fund “Khersonshchina”; run – 317000 copies; the newspaper is distributed free of charge. The address of the editorial board: 1 Svoboda Square (this is the address of the oblast state administration, a closed establishment, where a common citizen practically cannot get in).
Two pages of the newspaper are occupied by the article, which is, allegedly, devoted to the successes of Ukrainian sportsmen at the last Olympic Games, but more then a half of the text contains the praises on Viktor Yanukovich as a state figure, as the head of the National Olympic Committee, as a man and as a candidate to presidency. Interview on the topic “Whom you would want to see as your President?” is printed on another page. There are four interviews, but the answer is the same – Viktor Yanukovich.
The oblast organization of the VCU has the information about carelessness, with which the executive committees of local councils formed the lists of voters. In many cases these lists were not compiled within the term envisaged by law. And although the detailed analysis of the lists has not been conducted yet, there are data about their unsatisfactory quality. The quantity of voters in the Kherson oblast has not change much during 10 past years, in spite of the fact that the general number of inhabitants of the oblast decreased for 10% (excluding those, who are working outside the oblast).
The facts of criminal interference into the election process were also fixed.
Kherson buses, which, on 4 July, transported the adherents of V. Yushchenko to Kyiv to the ceremony of Yushchenkos nomination to the candidates to presidency, were stopped by road militia for 11 times: the militiamen checked the documents and lists of the people, who were in the buses. On the next day (5 July) the head of the Dneprovskiy district road militia of Kherson took away the registration numbers of all buses that were rented for the trip to Kyiv, confiscated the documents from drivers and warned the drivers that they were not permitted to leave the town. Similar cases with confiscation of documents from drivers by road militia were also observed in other district of the oblast, in particular, in the Novotroitskiy district of the Kherson oblast.
On 3 August, at 14:40, in Kherson, two unknown young men set fire to the car of Artem Kiyanovskiy, the head of the oblast organization of the PRP and the head of the fraction of “Our Ukraine” in the Kherson town council. The fire was extinguished, but the criminals were not caught.
The General Prosecutors office came to the conclusion that the “KAMAZ” driver did not attempt Yushchenkos life: “The General Prosecutors office did not find the features of attempt at the life of Viktor Yushchenko, a candidate to Presidents post, the leader of the bloc “Our Ukraine”, during the incident with the truck “KAMAZ” on 12 August on the road “Kakhovka – Genichesk””.
Valeriy Dolina, the general manager of the Kherson oblast state TV and radio company, rejected Yushchenkos request about the conclusion of the agreement about placing of the political agitation at the expense of the election fund. V. Dolina told that, because of technical reasons, he, allegedly, could render only 10 minutes for the entire period of the pre-election agitation to each candidate, informs the press service of Viktor Yushchenkos headquarters.