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20.08.2010

Call for criminal investigation over disruption of elections in Izmail Mayoral elections

   

The Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU], together with the Forum for the Rescue of Kyiv have called on the Prosecutor General, Oleksandr Medvedko, to initiate criminal proceedings against the officials involved in disrupting the elections for Mayor of Izmail scheduled for 1 August 2010.

According to the Chief Coordinator of the Forum for the Rescue of Kyiv, Vitaly Chernyakhovsky, they are asking the Prosecutor General to initiate proceedings under Article 157 § 3 (obstruction of electoral law) and 364 § 2 (abuse of official position or power) of the Criminal Code against the Acting Mayor of Izmail, Iryna Rudnichenko and the Head of the Department responsible for the State Registrar of Voters of the Izmail City Council, Serhiy Fedyury.

According to Oleksandr Chernenko, Head of CVU: “The unlawful failure to act by the Head of the Department responsible for the State Registrar of Voters of the Izmail City Council, Serhiy Fedyury led to the disruption of the electoral process. Referring to an instruction from the Acting Mayor, he n which made it impossible to hold the elections. A dangerous precedent was thus created where officials ignore the elections as mandatory procedure in the change of power.”

Vitaly Chernyakhovsky considers that the mass media and public did not give sufficient attention to this disruption of the Izmail elections. He is concerned that the first real noise on the subject was only for a few days, from the eve of the elections on 30 and 31 July, and a day or two after they were prevented. After this, he says, the subject got no coverage.

He is convinced that the cancellation of scheduled elections undermines the constitutional right of citizens to vote and stand for electoral office.  He stresses that this right is one of the fundamental democratic rights and freedoms and people should not give up their legitimate opportunities

As reported, the Verkhovna Rada in May scheduled spot elections for Mayor of Izmail for 1 August. There had for almost 2 years not been a Mayor, after Deputies of the City Council suspended the powers of the previous Mayor.

8 candidates had registered.

Then on 1 July, having decided that local council elections would be held throughout the country on 31 October, the Verkhovna Rada ancelled the elections in 154 places, including Izmail.

Acting Mayor, Iryna Rudnichenko, who was also running for the post of Mayor was against the spot elections. Reports say that she refused to allocate funds for the elections and applied to the court to have the ballot papers seized.  The court turned down her application, yet advised the police to take the ballot payers under their guard for 2 days and then hand them to the territorial electoral commission. The Acting Mayor then appealed against the ruling in the Odessa Regional Court of Appeal.

The last straw in the disruption of the elections was the refusal by the Head of the Department responsible for the State Registrar of Voters of the Izmail City Council, Serhiy Fedyury who refused, apparently on the instruction of Rudnichenko, to hand corrected lists of voters to the territorial electoral commission. Another cause for the elections not being held was the refusal by the police to hand over the ballot papers. Due to this, on 30 July the Izmail City Territorial Electoral Commission declared that the spot elections could not be held.

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