Food parcels and Russian as State language – illicit campaigning in Kharkiv
On 10 July monitors from the election watchdog OPORA reported that in two districts of Kharkiv food packages were being handed out from the “Help your Neighbour” Charity with a leaflet from Anatoly Denysenko, probable candidate in the No. 173 single-mandate electoral district from the Party of the Regions.
The distribution of food parcels was carried out with the participation of school personnel. The parcels were handed out, for example, , in schools No. 68 and 114 in the Kominternivsk district and No. 53 in the Chervonozavodsk districts.
According to information received from school staff, the food packages can be received in all schools according to where the person lives.
As well as food products, the packages contain telephone lists, a letter with a list of telephone numbers of the District Administrations, and a campaigning leaflet from Anatoly Denysenko.
The OPORA monitors also found that when receiving the food packages, the Kharkiv residents were asked to sign a letter to President Yanukovych asking for Russian to receive State language status.
The food parcels were given out according to lists (or by application if the person’s name was not on the list). The staff say that the action will probably continue after 5 on Friday evening for those who haven’t yet received a parcel.
OPORA points out that this constitutes bribing of voters which is a violation encroaching on the electoral rights of members of the public.
People guilty of violating electoral legislation may face criminal, administrative or other liability established by law. OPORA notes however that criminal liability is envisaged only for bribing voters after the official start of the electoral process, in the present case from 30 July (90 days before the elections.)