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Election watchdog criticizes authorities over flawed mid-term election

OPORA sees the main problem as being the failure of the authorities to fulfil their obligation and prevent infringements.

OPORA has reported on the results and given its assessment of the elections in Chernihiv on July 26.  It’s parallel vote tabulation basically coincides with the election results now issued and the exit poll by Sotsis.  As reported,  this exit poll, which was commissioned by the Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU] was one of three which gave quite different results.

OPORA found that over 33% had voted for the parliamentary candidate from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc Serhiy Berezenko, while Hennady Korban from the newly formed party the ‘Ukrainian Association of Patriots Ukrop received over 13% of the votes.  Korban was formerly Deputy Head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Administration and is seen as a close associate of oligarch and former Head of the same administration, Ihor Kolomoisky.  3 candidates – from Samopomich [the relatively new and most reform orientated party in the Verkhovna Rada]; the Democratic Alliance; and one self-nominated candidate.  The far-right VO Svoboda candidate was next with 6.53% of the votes.

In its preliminary statement OPORA repeats much of the criticism heard on July 26.  It speaks of breaches of election standards and unfair competition between candidates both during the election campaign and on voting day.  The excessive role played by money in the campaign, as well as the lack of proportionate access to media resources, as well as the readiness of the main candidates to use unlawful behaviour, made it harder for voters to form and exercise their electoral choice.

OPORA, however, sees the main problem as being the failure of the authorities to fulfil their obligation and prevent infringements.

Before Election Day, the state’s ability to prevent violations of electoral legislation was put in doubt by its insufficiently active and not infrequently contradictory reaction by the relevant authorities to attempts by candidates to use unlawful methods to secure votes.

The police, OPORA says, concentrated on ensuring public order and paid little heed to election infringements. It stresses that a free vote is impossible where those taking part in elections can infringe the law with effective impunity.

There were no systematic attempts to counter the bribing of voters despite the fact that liability for this had been significantly increased in 2014. Misuse of administrative resource and manipulation of public opinion regarding certain candidates’ alleged access to central and local development programs undermined the public’s faith in the state authorities’ impartiality.

OPORA calls on the law enforcement bodies to ensure a full and objective investigation into all electoral violations. 

More details about the types of infringements here

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