Mr Yanukovych, don’t ignore the television debates!


A number of civic organizations, journalists and concerned individuals have signed an appeal to one of the two presidential candidates, Viktor Yanukovych, urging him to reconsider his refusal to take part in pre-election television debates.

The appeal states:

“In your pre-election programme “Ukraine for people” you promise, should you be elected President, “to ensure improvement of the mechanisms of State power, a strengthening of the principles of parliamentarism and democracy. In numerous addresses and statements you position yourself as a contemporary European politician, stress your commitment to the principles of democracy, transparency and openness of those in power, their responsibility before civic society.

Before the elections your authorized representatives repeatedly stated that you would definitely take part in television debates with the candidate who reached the second round with you (for example, Anna German, National Deputy ). However since then your position has changed. You explain your refusal to take part in the debates with subject considerations and expectations from the meeting with your opponent, as well as the assumption that such a discussion will “not be interesting to Ukrainians”.

The appeal stresses that television debates between presidential candidates are a tradition in most democratic countries, including in Ukraine where they have been regularly held since 1994, and expands on the important role they provide in ensuring voters make an informed choice.

“We are convinced that you, like all Ukrainian citizens, are interested in constructive discussion and opportunity to compare two views of the country’s future. The format and regime for TV debates can be determined in such a way as to prevent manipulation, mutual recriminations and destructive utterances, maintaining the discussion at the level of exchange of views on strategy for Ukraine’s development, the ways of implementing election programmes, national economic and humanitarian priorities. Where desired, independent experts and members of both candidates’ teams can be involved in formulating the agenda and participation in the debates.

Television debates between presidential candidates before the second round of voting is envisaged by Article 62 of the Law “On the Presidential Elections”. While participation is voluntary, the decision to take part or not in the debates on the basis of personal preferences and interests runs absolutely counter to democratic principles. It is the test which if a candidate has not taken, s/he cannot consider victory in the elections entirely legitimate.

In 2004 neither considerable differences in views, nor the extremely tense and negative pre-election struggle stopped you from twice meeting your then opponent Viktor Yushchenko in live broadcasts. We call on you this time also to put aside all personal prejudices and to behave in the manner befitting a candidate for the post of Head of a civilized law-based State and take part in television debates, demonstrating in this way your commitment to democratic principles and respect for procedure which are the elements of responsibility of a politician to the people.

­The list of signatories since the appeal was sent around on Friday evening is impressive and can be seen here 

It is still open for endorsing (by writing to )

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