OPORA: Analogous cases, different court rulings
The election watchdog OPORA reports that on 31 October there were court hearings in the Obukhiv and Vasylkiv district courts in the Kyiv oblast. The Obukhiv District Court had received 17 civil suits asking the court to declare the elections invalid at polling stations where Batkivshchyna candidate Viktor Romanyuk won with a large majority. Of these the judges rejected 8 and accepted 3, despite the identical circumstances of the case and the testimony of members of the precinct electoral commissions [PEC]. A considerable percentage of the suits were from Tetyana Zasukha, the others from representatives of little-known candidates. In all 17 civil suits the grounds given for the elections to be declared invalid at the polling stations was that on Election Day observers had not been admitted to the PEC. Yet most of these polling stations have already handed in all protocols to the District Electoral Commission [DEC] and the relevant complaints were not made then.
Examination of the first case began with around 50 activists from the VO Svoboda Party and supporters of Viktor Romanyuk gathering outside the court. The press also arrived. As a result the judge rejected the first two court suits. In all cases the relevant act about infringements needed to be attached to the civil suit. All the statements asserted that the observers had been informed that the commission had voted to not admit them. Yet the registration journals show that in the majority of these PEC there were already representatives of the particular candidates, as well as a considerable number of other observers. Furthermore the members of the PEC show that there was no such vote.
However it only took the picket outside the court to disperse and the judges’ rulings began to change. As a result, despite the considerable testimony and the identical component of the cases, in 3 cases the decisions of commissions to remove an observer were found to have been unwarranted and that is grounds for declaring the results at those polling stations to be invalid. The OPORA observer also reports that the acts about an infringement which needed to be attached were in some cases written by the claimants in the court during the break.
At the same time in the Vasylkiv District Court 10 out of 11 suits were allowed. According to Mykola Motryka, Viktor Romanyuk’s lawyer, all the suits were lodged by Tetyana Zasukha.