Ukraine Elections Failed ‘Openness’ Norms, U.S. Says

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s local elections, including votes to install new mayors, “did not meet standards for openness and fairness” set during presidential balloting held earlier this year, the U.S. State Department said.

“Domestic and international election observation efforts, most notably those led by the widely respected domestic, non- partisan monitor OPORA, reported numerous procedural violations on election day,” the State Department said today in an e- mailed statement.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions received the most votes in the Oct. 31 elections held in 24 provinces and the republic of Crimea, according to an exit poll by the local office of GfK market research.

Yanukovych’s party got 36.2 percent of the vote and supporters of Yulia Timoshenko, the opposition leader and former prime minister, took 13.1 percent, the poll showed. The survey of 1,110 voters at 560 polling stations had a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points, GfK said.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, speaking at a weekly government meeting today, said the elections were held “in a quiet fashion” and were democratic. The electoral commission has said the full results will be released by this coming weekend, Nov. 6-7.

‘Hope for the Future’

“Millions of people were able to give their votes for those candidates and those political parties which appealed to their views,” Azarov said. “The election results showed that the nation trusts the authorities and sees in our policies hope for the future.”

Tymoshenko’s bloc physically prevented the speaker of the house from reaching the rostrum in Parliament, demanding the setting up of a special commission to “investigate violations” during the elections.

“The elections were not free, democratic and honest and thus they did not correspond to international standards,” Dmytro Hnap, a spokesman for Ukrainian monitor OPORA, said by phone from Kiev.

“The election campaign was not democratic as there was administrative pressure, the local territorial commissions were not balanced, while ballot counting is being done in violation of criminal laws in some regions.”

Source: Bloomberg