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12.10.2012

OPORA: CCTV at polling stations a mark of façade democracy

   

Olha Aivazovska

President Yanukovych has asserted that video cameras at polling stations will ensure that the elections are transparent. The company providing the equipment claims that the billion UAH allocated by the government for this purpose is not too high.  Analysts and members of the opposition, however, believe this a waste of money as the most important stages of the elections will not be videoed.

In response to an information request, Radio Svoboda was told by the State Department on Special Communications that the Cabinet of Ministers had allocated almost a billion UAH to the firm Sitronics Information Technology Ukraine.  The company, they were told, had submitted a proposal for providing CCTV coverage of the elections and according to the results of government monitoring the Cabinet of Ministers had appointed them to carry out the work.  It was also asserted that at the decision of the Central Election Commission, this system of video surveillance would be tested for their protection of information.

Vitaly Mukhin from Sitronics explained how the system will work.

On Election Day video broadcasts from all polling stations will be available on the Internet. “One camera will be above the table of the electoral commission, another above the ballot boxes. Both cameras will record events at the polling station.”

On 10 October Viktor Yanukovych stated that video cameras at polling stations would make the elections fully transparent and prevent wide-scale electoral fraud.  He asserted that the system would react instantly to violations and that these videos could be used in the courts. And that the initiative he had supported proved that the government was set on making the elections transparent and democratic.

The opposition are either sceptical or positively condemn the move. Arseny Yatsenyuk asserts that the surveillance has two purposes: to create the illusion of transparency and to frighten voters.

Head of the civic network OPORA, Olha Aivazovska stresses that the CCTV is not enough since no less important parts of the electoral process will not be recorded.  She calls the cameras a sign of so-called façade democracy and notes that video recordings are not proof in court.  She too says that if video surveillance is to be effective it should record the vote count.   “And it would have been even better to spend that money on observing the work of the district commissions and the CEC because these were the most problematic areas regarding electoral fraud”. 

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