18.01.2005 | Oleksandr Stepanenko, Chortkiv

Commentary to the events during Presidential election in the Ternopil region


There were many problems during the first tour of Presidential election in the Ternopil region. As it is known, some of them were elucidated, although one-sidedly, by all-Ukrainian mass media.

The problems began to arise as early as several weeks before the election. So, the Chortkiv district election commission got the consignment of small ballot boxes… without bottoms. On the eve of the election it became known that some election stations in the Zbarazskiy and Zborivskiy districts were not provided with ballot boxes at all, and the commissions had to take the «emergency measures» for the conduction of voting at these stations. Because of carelessness of district commissions in the Shumskiy, Kremenetskiy, Berezhanskiy and Terebovlianskiy district the changes were introduced into voting papers, which changes were not agreed with the Central election commission.

Yet, the greatest number of problems arose, like in other regions, on the day of election. These problems were connected with the mistakes in the lists of voters. Some apartment houses and even parts of streets were «lost» in some election districts. Names, surnames and dates of birth of voters were distorted. At previous presidential and parliamentary election the district commissions had the right to correct such mistakes, but now the voters have to turn to court or territorial election commission in order to defend their right to participation in the election.

I was a witness of the situation, when an elderly married couple came to the Chortkiv circuit commission from the village of Zalissya satiated at a distance of 30 kilometers from the district center. These people, and they are about 80-years-old, lived in this village during all their life. So, they could not understand, why they had not been included into the voting lists, and they had to go to the town. Yet, naturally, not all voters were able to struggle for their franchise. The majority of people, «missing» in the lists or registered in the lists with mistakes, could not vote, especially in rural area. The situation in towns was somewhat better, but even there not everyone could stay in the long queues in order to hand the applications about their inclusion to the lists… The Chortkiv district election commission satisfied 480 complaints of voters concerning their non-presence in the lists, and, at the same time, the number of such complaints handed to the Ternopil town commission was about 1500.

The role of local courts in the protection of rights of voters is a separate painful problem. Some judges, for instance in the Zbarazskiy, Pidvolochiskiy, Lanivetskiy, Borshchivskiy and Gusiatinskiy district courts, worked industriously and considered scores of voters’ complaints every day, but the position of other judges may be regarded only as sabotage. So, judge of the Chortkiv district court L. Kviatkovska did not consider any complaints of voters on the day of election. The people, who turned to the court on this day for the protection of their franchise, confronted with absurd and illegal condition: to pay the legal expenses and to compile the complaint in presence of an advocate…

It appeared in the course of calculation of votes that not only some election commission were not ready to the election, but also some voters, who, because of ignorance of laws, filled the bulletins incorrectly. As a result, the district commissions of the region acknowledged as invalid 14 thousands of bulletins. I reckon that those, who actively agitated for one candidate, but did not care about enlightenment of voters, should meditate on that.

Many misunderstandings arose around the questions connected with inclusion to voters’ lists of the citizens, who worked outside Ukraine – there are many such people in the Western regions of our country. Some of them deliberately returned home on the day of election and were refused to be included into the lists. In these cases the commissions referred to the Law «On the freedom of movement and free choice of place of residence in Ukraine», according to which «the permanent place of residence is the administrative-territorial entity, where the person lives for more than six months per year». Thus, if a man, for instance, did not live in his village for two years, he was not included in the lists and was proposed to vote «in his Poland» or «in his Italy». At the same time, the Law of Ukraine «On election of the President of Ukraine» (Article 2) reads: «The citizens of Ukraine, who are 18 years old on the day of the election, have the right to participate in the election of the President of Ukraine… Any direct or indirect privileges or restriction of the election right of Ukrainian citizens connected with race, color of skin, political, religious or other views, sex, ethnical or social origin, property status, place of residence, language or other characteristics are prohibited». Everybody knows that the majority of our compatriots work abroad illegally, so they avoid any contacts with the official institutions and cannot protect their rights and interests. At the same time, the doubtless priority in this situation is the fact that all these people are citizens of Ukraine, so nobody may restrict their right to elect the head of the state by the «general, free and direct» voting.

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