Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe: U.S. Helsinki Commission
Assessing Ukraine’s Parliamentary Elections
Committee Members Present:
Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL)
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State,
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor,
United States Department of State
National Democratic Institute
Regional Director, Eurasia,
International Republican Institute
The Hearing Was Held From 10:00 a.m. To 11:30 a.m. in Room B-318 Rayburn House
Office Building, Washington, D.C., Orest Deychakiwsky, Policy Adviser for
Belarus, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine, CSCE, Moderating
Date: Friday, November 16, 2012
Federal News Service
OREST DEYCHAKIWSKY: I think we can start the briefing.
My name’s Orest Deychakiwsky. I’m a policy adviser here at the Helsinki
Commission. On behalf of our chairman, Congressman Chris Smith, welcome to
today’s Helsinki Commission briefing assessing the October 28th parliamentary
elections in Ukraine. We’re pleased to have with us a very distinguished,
knowledgeable panel of seasoned representatives of organizations with
substantial, longtime on-the-ground election experience in Ukraine.
Before proceeding with our panel, let me say a few words from my perspective as
an OSCE observer at these elections. The OSCE, the U.S. government, the EU and
others have all asserted that these elections represented a step backward
compared to the four most recent national elections. According to the OSCE’s
post-election preliminary statement, there was a lack of level playing field,
caused primarily by the abuse of administrative resources, the lack of
transparency, of campaign and party financing and lack of balanced media
On the other hand, voters had a choice between distinct parties, and elections
day voting and the counting were assessed quite positively by the vast majority
of OSCE observers. Indeed, the voting – and more importantly, the count – that
my partner, Italian member of parliament Matteo Mecacci, and I observed in a
polling station in Kiev Oblast, for instance, was, I would say, very good,
among the best I’ve ever seen and – on my election observing.
However, according to the OSCE-ODIHR election mission’s post-election interim
report, issued just a week ago, the tabulation process following elections day
lacked transparency and was marred by serious problems, including outright
falsifications in some of the single-mandate districts, and we’ll hear more
about that from OPORA in a little while.
So these elections, I think, with all their flaws, were far – were for the most
part competitive and more or less free, if obviously far from being completely
fair. Despite their shortcomings, they clearly were not the noncompetitive,
farcical, rigged elections that we see all too often in former Soviet states,
including those that I observed just two months ago in Belarus in late
But having said that, let me offer several points for your consideration.
Number one, in contrast to elections in Belarus, Russia and elsewhere in the
post-Soviet regime, a space where elections have not complied with OSCE
standards for a long time, if ever, Ukraine’s last four national elections were
assessed positively by the OSCE. Unfortunately, these elections moved Ukraine
in the wrong direction. So what we see is regression.
Number two, Ukraine aspires to European values and European integration, has
actually undertaken some concrete measures to draw closer to Europe. Belarus
and Russia, obviously, have not.
And number three, Ukraine soon will assume the leadership of the OSCE. An
incoming chair in office should display exemplary conduct by adhering to OSCE
commitments, especially in areas of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
democracy and the rule of law. Instead, it appears as if Ukraine will take
over the chairmanship under a cloud. Of course, the releasing of political
opposition leaders, Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuri Lutsenko, and completing the
election process in a fair, transparent way, as vice president urged President
Yanukovych to do earlier this week, would go a considerable way, I think, in
helping to remove that cloud.
And now I’ll introduce our panel in order of appearance. Olha Ajvazovska is
board chair of the Ukraine citizens network OPORA with an education in
journalism and philology. Olha has spent her career in the civic sector.
She’s been the chairman of the board since 2009 and worked with the
organization since its founding in 2006. Prior to that Olha worked for PORA,
the nongovernmental organization from which OPORA evolved, and other student
and youth organizations.
Katie Fox is deputy director for Eurasia and the National Democratic Institute.
Prior to joining NDI 16 years ago, Katie was legislative director for a large
labor union and served as an aide to U.S. senators and a congressman. In her
current role, she oversees NDI election monitoring, civic organizing and
political party development programs in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova.
Stephen Nix, who’s no stranger to this commission, is regional director for
Eurasia at the International Republican Institute. He’s been with IRI since
2000 and oversees programs in Belarus, Georgia, the Kirghiz Republic, Moldova,
Russia and Ukraine. Prior to IRI, Steve served for two years as senior
democracy specialist at the U.S. – USAID. And during the 1990s Steve worked
among many other things either for three years, I believe it was, in Ukraine,
part of that time if not all of it for IFES.
We’re honored to have join us – and he just returned from Iraq last night –
Thomas Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy,
Human Rights and Labor, DRL. He’s responsible for DRL’s work in Europe,
including Ukraine, Russia and the Caucasus, in the Middle East and North Africa
and workers’ rights issues worldwide. Prior to coming to DRL in 2010, Mr.
Melia spent five years as deputy executive director of Freedom House and before
that spent 12 years with NDI.
Now, if you haven’t done so already, please pick up their full biographies.
They’re on the table outside, along with brief descriptions of their
At this juncture, before the panelists start, I’d like to introduce Dr. Paul
Carter, who’s our senior State Department adviser here at the Helsinki
Commission. Paul has a long and distinguished career in European and Eurasian
affairs, including as the State Department’s desk officer – political officer
during the Orange Revolution, I would say a particularly interesting time to be
Before we turn it over to the other panelists, I’d like to ask Paul to say a
brief word about an especially topical issue relating to election observation.
PAUL CARTER: Thank you, Orest. It’s an honor to appear here today with this
distinguished panel. I look forward to hearing their views on the Ukrainian
elections, their significance for democracy in Ukraine and the way forward.
I first would like to take this opportunity to say a few words on an
election-related matter. As Orest mentioned, Ukraine will assume the OSCE
chairmanship in office at the beginning of the new year. This will be an
important opportunity for Ukraine to bolster its democratic credentials and to
help strengthen respect for fundamental freedoms in the Euro-Atlantic and
Eurasian regions. We have high hopes for Ukraine’s chairmanship and look
forward to assisting Ukraine in any way we can.
A few days ago Ukrainian Foreign Minister Gryshchenko told the press that
during its 2013 chairmanship of the OSCE, Ukraine would offer what he called
common standards for the activity of international election observers. We’ll
have to wait for the Ukrainian government to flesh out this proposal, but when
their face – on its face, it has caused some concern.
For several years now the term “common standards” has been a shorthand way of
referring to proposals by some participating states to weaken OSCE election
activities by subjecting them to consensus agreement, including by the
governments whose elections are being observed. We strongly oppose any efforts
to undercut OSCE election observation activities and urge Ukraine to ensure
that OSCE work on elections and OSCE human dimension work in general is
protected from any efforts to weaken or undermine it.
The OSCE Office for Democratic Initiatives and Human Rights already has a
handbook and code of conduct for election observers that has been the basis of
OSCE observations for the last 15 years. We support the existing handbook and
code of conduct and encourage the Ukrainian chairmanship to assist in the
implementation and strengthening of the existing OSCE documents.
I would welcome any comments that our panelists might have on this matter. And
now I would like to turn it over to them. Thank you very much.
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Thanks, Paul.
At this point too, I would like to recognize Ukraine’s ambassador to the United
States, the honorable Olexander Motsyk, who, in the question-and-answer session
after the panelists are done, will have the opportunity for the first question
and comments, any comments he might have. Welcome, Ambassador Motsyk.
Thanks a lot, Paul. Now we turn to our first panelist. Reading Ms.
Ajvazovska’s statement will be her colleague, Iurii Lisovsskij, coordinator of
OPORA’s observer network. And then Ms. Ajvasovska will give a brief PowerPoint
presentation in Ukrainian – with English translation, of course. So please
IURII LISOVSSKIJ (Coordinator, OPORA’s Observer Network): OPORA notes setback
of Ukraine in holding democratic elections. The 2012 parliamentary campaign was
characterized by an artificial restriction of competition within the electoral
process and by flagrant violations of the principle of equal opportunities for
political parties and candidates.
The mixed electoral system, as well as the use of the illegal practice of
abusing administrative resources and bribing votes had a decision influence on
the course of the campaign, which generally did not contribute to the integrity
of its results. These violations were systematic and had no legal consequences
for the electoral subjects that resorted to them.
Taking into consideration pre-election and election day factors, OPORA
considers that the election process does not meet basic democratic standards
due to the lack of equal conditions for conducting campaigning for – by
candidates and parties, unrepresented large number of technical electoral
subjects, unbalanced election commissions and media.
However, observers recorded the most grievous violations at the stage of vote
count and vote tabulation. OPORA counted 16 districts, in which direct and
unconcealed fraud took place at the level of district election commissions,
namely: Changes were made to the protocols of vote at polling stations;
ballots were destroyed and spoiled; false data of vote count was transferred to
the CEC website. The judiciary and enforcement bodies were unable to properly
perform its functions and to promote establishment of the election results.
Unfortunately, the above-mentioned violations remained out of attention by the
law enforcement bodies.
The return of Ukraine to a mixed electoral system previously applied in 1998
and 2002 with a majoritarian component provided incentives for electoral
subjects to massively use unfair methods of campaigning in single-mandate
constituencies. In countries with no rooted democratic traditions and
societies not critical of corruption, the majoritarian component also corrupts
the electoral process.
The state authorities failed to provide impartial treatment of all participants
to the election process. Taking advantage of Ukraine ambitious electoral law,
which does not clearly distinguish between campaign activities and the
performance of official duties, officials systematically used their power and
state resources available to them for campaigning.
The most common abuse of this type was observed within budget administrative
resources. Candidates or parties close to authorities received substantial
indirect investment from municipal or state budgets for the needs of their
campaigns, which put electoral subjects in unequal conditions and misled the
voters, who were unable to distinguish between manipulation and the real
achievements of candidates.
The indirect bribery of votes, which was conducted by candidates and parties
in the form of charity, was the main technology used to impact the vote.
Candidates’ charitable foundations turned out to be a complementary tool of
campaign financing that directly contradicted the norms of the law on exclusive
financing of campaign activities of the electoral subjects from the official
election funds. Thus, the issue of the lack of transparency in financing
election activities become even more acute in the 2012 parliamentary campaign.
The indirect votes bribery carried out by candidates was massive and systematic
and conducted by illegally providing products, services, jobs or benefits to
voters with the purpose of campaigning.
The use of controversial procedure for drawing the members of district and
precinct election commissions resulted in an unbalanced representation of key
electoral actors in election commissions and the dominance of the so-called
“technical parties” in the commissions. As a result, the work of the election
commissions before and during election day was marked by constant conflict and
a lack of public confidence in the commissions as the institutions responsible
for the administering election process on the ground.
In the process of tabulation and transmission of protocols of the district
election commissions, observers recorded procedural violations, including
taking stamps outside polling stations, which is prohibited by law; precinct
election commissions delaying the signing of the vote count protocols; and the
frequent return of protocols by DECs to PECs for further information check.
Observers also noted that the procedure to consider complaints from electoral
subjects and citizens was quite formally fulfilled. At a quarter of polling
stations, where complaints and claims were registered during the voting day,
commissioners spent a total of no more than half an hour their consideration.
(Note: Ms. Ajvazovska’s remarks are provided through an interpreter.)
OLHA AJVAZOVSKA: Thank you. Let me take over. Just a few slides in my
presentation to illustrate the points that Iurii just made.
First of all, speaking of systematic irregularities that we observed even
before the election, there would be use of administrative resources by the
party of power. Specifically, government resources were used to give unfair
advantages to the specific candidates. Four hundred fifty-seven such
violations were registered by our observers. Such use – such unfair use and
unfair advantages provided by use of these state resources precluded fair
competition in these elections.
Secondly, I would like to emphasize the bribery of the voters. That these
violations – that these – more specific to Ukraine, and it’s the – it’s the
attempt to bribe the voters.
The third type of irregularities was the hindering of political activities and
creating artificial difficulties for the candidates. That would include
obstruction or denying access to the media. Then even to – up to using of law
enforcement type activities and creating artificial barriers.
I just mentioned these three most common types of violation and irregularities,
though investigated many more.
Unfortunately, those irregularities and violations were of a systemic nature
and were observed throughout the territory Ukraine.
The violations and the irregularities that we observed after the election day,
they did – we did not consider them systemic, as they were more prevalent in
some regions than in other regions. Nevertheless, they were material, as they
affected the outcome of the elections.
Additionally, OPORA provided voting tabulations that gave us the gauge of the
outcome. The results for the districts were – there were many (mandates ?) of
– our predictions are closely aligned with preliminary results that we received
from Central Electoral Committee.
We encountered, as it was predicted, the most problematic outcome in those
districts where we had a single candidate, which we believe was a result of
legislative type of manipulation by the electoral committee. Unfortunately,
these elections were unprecedented they – that they used the dummy candidates
or placeholder candidates, or what they call technical candidates. Among 81
entities that took part in polling – in selecting the electoral committee, only
22 political parties considered true or real participants in election process.
Sixty of these political parties considered dummies or placeholders, or
technical parties, as they called – that they were created on purpose to skew
the composition of the electoral system.
This chart highlights distribution of different parties through electoral
committee. Blue bars indicates representations of various political parties in
these commissions – district electoral commissions. The yellow bars represent
number of – a true number of candidates registered by those political parties
that would clearly indicate that those political parties that would be expected
to be most popular with electorate in Ukraine as Party Svoboda and Party UDAR,
they did not receive a single place in these electoral committees.
Unfortunately, this type of skewing and manipulation resulted in violations
also after the day of elections. The – (inaudible) – was affected through
denying or through the lack of political representations in the commissions
that were in charge of counting the votes or tabulating the votes after the
elections. For example, out of the 18 members of the Central Electoral
Committee, only two represented the opposition parties, so 16 were
Here let me underline the scope of the observers that we provided. Two hundred
twenty-five long-term observers – they worked throughout the – before, during
and after the elections. Additionally, we had 3,500 short-term observers
working specifically on the election day. That allows us with confidence to
state that most of the violations – systemic violations took place before the
election day. We also noted the number of irregularities that are – that
should be classified as falsifications after the election days. So the
regional election districts participated in these manipulations.
Regardless of the – (inaudible) – and scheduling of secondary election in five
districts – (inaudible) – electoral districts, we do not believe that these
second elections would be any more fair than the original ones unless laws that
were responsible for violation in the first place would be duly prosecuted.
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Thank you very much, Olha and Iurii. And now we’ll turn to
KATIE FOX: Thank you, Orest. And also, thank you, Olha, for an interesting
presentation on the problems plaguing this election. NDI’s observations
similarly point to an election that is not democratic and constitutes a setback
for Ukrainians’ Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
I’m going to use my time here today, however, to place this election in the
context of Ukraine’s longer-term democratic development. Democracy is about
more than elections, of course, as Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has
himself implied in describing Ukraine’s aspirations to meet European Union
democratic, not only electoral, standards.
Is that better? Thank you. Sorry.
On one key measure of democracy, political pluralism, Ukraine did reasonably
well in these elections. Even though they did not compete on a level playing
field, opposition parties are likely to be well-represented in the new
parliament. In addition, because of what seems to be a protest vote against
established groups, new political parties like Svoboda and UDAR will have seats
in the parliament. It appears that despite the voter bribery and misuse of
government resources in the campaign, which OPORA has told us about, many
citizens simply decided to vote their consciences. And this is a healthy sign.
A second positive: Parties and candidates appear to have campaigned to a
greater extent than previously on the issues, giving voters real choices. Poll
after poll has shown that Ukrainians are frustrated with their leaders. They
are yearning for new policy proposals as well as new leaders. So this election
was a tentative indication that parties are beginning to respond, and that’s
Turning to the election’s clearly negative effects on Ukraine’s democratic
progress, as Orest and Paul have said, there is a consensus among credible
domestic and international observer groups that the elections were, quote, a
step backwards. I am not going to try to expand on the very good job OPORA has
done of describing what happened in the elections themselves, except to add one
NDI fielded a pre-election delegation, which issued a statement on the campaign
environment. And in that, we pointed to a deep lack of confidence in Ukrainian
leaders, political parties and other political institutions. That lack of
confidence appears to have worsened dramatically since our group left Ukraine
in September. And we see that, for example, in the lack of confidence and
apparently outright bias on some of the election – district election
commissions that OPORA is describing. NDI and other groups recommended changes
to the way these election commissions were selected, which unfortunately were
But I would like to return to Ukraine’s progress on democracy overall. In
testimony before the Helsinki Commission last May, NDI listed threats to
democracy in Ukraine. And today that list is substantially unchanged. At that
time we noted a significant decline in the protection of democratic rights.
More fundamental, we talked about the danger of consolidation of political
party within the executive branch – excuse me, political power within the
executive branch and, indeed, within a single political party. In this
context, we referred to legislation that was passed in 2010 to strengthen the
presidency, we referred to flawed local elections in 2010 that were won
overwhelming by the governing party of regions, and we referred to the
politicization of the judiciary.
Today there is one more potential red flag. Critics of the Ukrainian
government have long speculated that the Yanukovych administration would seek
constitutional changes to enhance the power of the presidency. But until last
week, amending the constitution required the support of two-thirds of the Rada,
a supermajority, which the governing party did not achieve in these elections.
But on November 6th, the Rada passed, with just 10 minutes of debate,
legislation that changes the constitutional amendment process to introduce a
national referendum and, more important, eliminate the need for a two-thirds
majority. Now the president may put a proposed change to a national – put a
proposed constitutional change to a national referendum with the support of a
simple parliamentary majority.
I am not – we are not here to debate the merits of national referenda per se,
but nevertheless, it is reasonable to wonder about the circumstances under
which this constitutional amendment procedure was so quickly changed. The
opposition parties have indeed cried foul, and the burden is now on Ukraine’s
leaders to regain their confidence by demonstrating that there is a legitimate
reason for the sudden change. What else can Ukraine’s leaders do going forward
to reassure and reunite Ukrainians as well as reassure the international
community of their democratic intentions?
In the short term, as Olha has said, the election authority’s police and
prosecutor’s office should investigate all credible claims of electoral fraud
and fully prosecute all violations, or there is no reason to believe that the
next elections will be any better than the last ones. And that includes the
districts that are to be rerun.
Second, over the next few weeks Rada factions will be forming. Nonaligned
deputies will declare their allegiances. A certain amount of bargaining is
part of parliamentary faction formation. However, we hope all parties will
refrain from using corrupt or unethical methods, bribes or threats, to induce
members of parliament to join factions. Such behavior has historically been
used in Ukraine to distort election results, and it is guaranteed to trigger
suspicions in Ukraine and the international community.
Third, in the short term, Rada leaders should examine the rules of procedure
and try to ensure that some leadership positions, such as substantive committee
chairmanships, are reserved for opposition MPs. More substantial opposition
involvement will promote more trust and confidence in the deliberations of the
And then turning to our recommendations for the longer term, legislative or
constitutional changes affecting the structure of power, the rights of the
opposition or electoral conditions should be the subject of full, transparent
and inclusive debate. Opposition parties and civic groups – civic experts
should be included. This may, in the near future, for example, apply to
administrative reform, changes to the presidential election law or to the
Second, the government should put an immediate stop to politically motivated
prosecutions. NDI here joins the widespread call for the release of former
Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko. As long
as they are in jail, neither Ukrainians nor the international community will
have full confidence in Ukrainian leaders’ democratic credentials.
Third, as a result of the reintroduction of single-mandate districts, for the
first time in several years Ukraine will have members of parliament
representing defined geographic areas. This offers a new opportunity to
strengthen ties between elected leaders and voters. We hope that across the
political spectrum, these members of parliament will strive to learn and
respond to the needs of their constituents.
And finally, I would like to second the call from Dr. Carter on – in regard to
electoral standards. NDI has been at the forefront of a worldwide movement,
along with the U.N. and other credible observation organizations, to promulgate
standards for international observation. These are very similar to the
standards that Mr. Carter discussed – Dr. Carter discussed from the OSCE, and
we fully agree that the best way to improve election observation is to
strengthen those standards and not to start with new ones.
In the next few weeks, NDI is going to issue more detailed recommendations on
how to improve the electoral process itself, and these will be based on our
pre-election delegation and also a team of electoral experts that NDI has had
in Ukraine throughout the electoral process. We will offer those
recommendations, and I offer this statement today in the spirit of
strengthening and supporting democratic institutions and processes in Ukraine.
Ultimately, it will be the people of Ukraine who will determine the credibility
of their elections and the country’s democratic development. And NDI looks
forward to working with them and with Ukraine’s friends and allies in the U.S.
and Europe, including those who are here today.
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Thank you very much, Katie.
We’re joined by Congressman Commissioner Aderholt. But we’ll proceed now to
Steve Nix. Please, Steve.
STEPHEN NIX: Can you hear me?
Thank you very much, Orest for scheduling this important briefing. It’s an
honor to be here once again. Ukraine remains of great strategic importance to
the United States, and developments there, particularly in the area of
democracy, remain of keen interest. And for this reason, a careful analysis of
the democratic backsliding in Ukraine and how the United States and Europe
should react is of utmost importance at this time.
I’d like to focus my remarks today in four distinct categories: first, the
parliamentary election campaign period; second, the actual events on election
day; third, official results; and then finally, the repercussions of these
elections for Ukraine and its self-expressed interest in further integration
into Euro-Atlantic structures.
Regardless of all the analysis and technical aspects of the elections which
took place in Ukraine on October 28th, the specter that hung over the entire
process was that election day marked the 450th day of imprisonment for Yulia
Tymoshenko, the 671st day of imprisonment of Yuri Lutsenko. Both faced what
has been described as the – by the U.S. government as selective prosecution,
which kept them off the ballot and denied millions of Ukrainians who had
previously voted for them in previous elections from doing so in this
particular election. It’s from this starting point which the fairness of these
elections must be judged to be a step backwards for Ukrainian democracy.
IRI fielded an official international observation delegation with observers
visiting more than 160 polling stations on election day. IRI’s assessment was
that during the campaign period, significant problems combined to create a very
uneven playing field that made it difficult for the parties and candidates to
compete fairly. These include the following: First, as was stated previously,
the law on parliamentary elections which was adopted in November 2011 was a
return to the system last utilized by Ukraine in its 2002 parliamentary
elections, when observers reported significant fraud. The Venice commission
strongly criticized the absence of political consensus and the lack of
transparency around the drafting of the law, which was done by the presidential
administration and which provided little substantive input from Ukrainian
political parties or civil society.
Secondly, the government increased pressure on independent media. The
independent TV station ATN was closed in September 2011, and in April 2012 the
tax authorities, increasingly used as a tool of government and formerly headed
by the current prime minister, exerted pressure on the media and began to
target TVi this past summer and opened a politically motivated criminal case
against the station’s owner.
Third, the Ukrainian government has also started to move to more closely
monitor and regulate the activities of domestic civil society organizations.
Again, tax authorities have targeted independent civil society organizations
with criminal cases, and in one case, the Association of Ukrainian Banks came
under pressure from the tax authorities to cease its work. The largest network
of civic organizations in Ukraine, which operates under the Civil Initiative
Support Center, reported that many individuals who attempted to simply exercise
their legal right to check their names on the voter registry during the
pre-election period were contacted by representatives of the government
inquiring why they were asking to verify that their names were on the voter
Sixth, political parties and candidates suffered intimidation and investigation
by tax authorities and other governmental bodies that reduced their ability to
compete in the election. Composition of election commissions was uneven, as
was noted in the presentation you just saw. And major parties were at times
completely excluded from membership in polling station commissions. IRI
observers noted what appeared to be pseudo-parties that were created with the
sole purpose of allowing the ruling party to dominate membership on
commissions. As a result, the composition of precinct election commissions
suffered from a lack of representation of legitimate political parties
competing in these elections.
All of these factors as well, as many credible reports on the use of
administrative resources, again which you heard about previously, resulted in a
pre-election period which simply did not allow for a fair and competitive
As was noted earlier, the overall conduct of the electoral process from a
technical standpoint on election day was assessed as a regression of democracy
by most international election observers.
Here’s what others had to say about these elections: Quote, one should not
have to visit a prison in order to hear from leading political figures in the
country. These are the powerful words of Walburga Habsburg Douglas, the
special coordinator who led the OSCE short-term election observation mission in
Ukraine. Just recently, Catherine Ashton put out a statement saying that she
expressed her concern about the conduct of the post-electoral process, which
was marred by irregularities, delays in the vote count and a lack of
transparency in the – in electoral commissions. This comes in addition to the
lack of response to the shortcomings and problems already identified earlier by
the OSCE/ODIHR interim reports.
Taken together, this represents deterioration in several areas compared to
standards previously achieved. It was noted that Ukraine had made some
progress in the administration of elections, but ensuring a level playing field
was the dominant factor here. The problems in the campaign period and election
day are particularly troubling, as they indicate that Ukraine has not
progressed in the way that it should and has not advanced as far as other
former republics, including Georgia, which just saw its first peaceful transfer
of power from one democratic elected government to another.
While some reported that technical aspects – the administration of election was
done in an orderly manner, i.e., there was no proof of nationwide systemic
networks of fraud, Ukraine continues to fall short in ensuring voters a
campaign in which candidates have equal opportunity to be heard and that they
can be confident that their individual votes count. Despite the efforts of
polling officials and voters who turned out to cast their ballots, Ukraine
still faces significant obstacles to its democratic development.
With regard to the official results, I’d just like to go back to what was said
previously about the election system. Ukraine returned to a system last
utilized in 2002. And I’m going to depart from my former remarks here just to
make the point that Ukraine has had several systems of elections since its
independence. It started out with a single-mandate system. A few years later,
it changed to a mixed system. It then went to a hundred percent proportional
system. Now it’s back to a mixed system.
So Ukraine is now on its fourth system of parliamentary elections since its
independence. You know, we strongly suggest that Ukraine adhere to common
practice and not change its system of voting on a regular basis. It impacted
the strategy; it was the driving force in this campaign. Many people drew
parallels, this campaign, to the 2002 one in which Viktor Andriyovych
Yushchenko and Nasha Ukraina won a plurality of the seats in the party list
system but did not fare well in the single-mandate system.
And the results are very, very similar when you look at them. Our polling
predicted that the combined opposition – that would be Batkivshchyna, Front
Zmin, UDAR and Svoboda – would win in a combined total of 120 seats, and that’s
exactly the allocation they received under the party list system. Because it’s
difficult to do polling on a single-mandate basis, it was unknown how they
would do. But it’s very clear that the ruling party knew that their numbers
were falling, and they focused their strategy primarily in the single-mandate
seats. If one would merely double the number of votes, the number of seats
that the opposition gained, if there were a reversion back to the old system of
a party list, then one could surmise that the opposition may have won as many
as 240 seats, thus ensuring a majority in parliament, an altogether different
story than what we have today in Ukraine.
So again, the change in system I think had tremendous repercussions. I’m going
to shorten my remarks just to go to next steps. The 2012 parliamentary
elections were a step backwards in Ukraine’s democratic development. Although
Ukraine has shown that it can improve upon its administration of election day
activities, the uneven playing field again demonstrated the opposition did not
have equitable access to media and the massive use of government resources by
pro-government candidates and the intimidation of opposition candidates.
Secondly, it should be noted that there have been numerous calls for banning
visas in the U.S., Canada and the European Union for those individuals involved
in selective prosecution of political figures. After this election, I think
the calls for such measures will only be increased.
In terms of future democracy assistance in Ukraine, I have several
recommendations. Against the backdrop, again, of another changed election
system, I think the international community missed an opportunity to fully
support the advancement of Ukrainian democracy. In an election being conducted
under new rules, those participating were not able to realize their full
potential as actors in the electoral process.
IRI regularly receives requests from all major political parties, candidates,
poll workers, commission members, party observers for additional technical
assistance in order to prepare them to fulfill their roles and responsibilities
in elections. IRI strongly believes that in order to contribute to a level
playing field in future elections in Ukraine, appropriate attention must be
given to strong political party development. Without strong, national,
representative political parties in the opposition as well as the government,
further steps backward in Ukraine’s democratic process can be expected.
That’s the conclusion of my remarks. I look forward to any questions you have
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Thank you very much, Steve, and now Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State Tom Melia.
THOMAS MELIA: Thank you, Orest, and thank you for joining us this morning,
Congressman Aderholt. It’s a reflection of the importance of this briefing and
the importance that Ukraine has for American policymakers in the Congress and
in the executive branch. I also want to bring greetings on behalf of my boss,
Assistant Secretary Michael Posner, who is one of the three executive branch
commissioners of the Helsinki Commission. He is, unfortunately, traveling
outside the Helsinki region today. Otherwise he probably would have wanted to
join us as well.
I’m also pleased to share the stage today with my colleagues from NDI and good
friends from IRI and especially with the inspiring leader of the civil network
OPORA, Olga Ajvazovska. It’s good to see you again, and thank you for coming
to Washington to share your analysis with us.
Much has already happened since the voting ended three weeks ago on October
28th. And although the final results as reported by the Central Election
Commission were published this week, the election process is still not yet
completed. As we know, five single-mandate districts will hold new elections
because the CEC could not establish a winner. Those elections will take place
early next year.
The three opposition parties, the United Opposition, UDAR, and Svoboda, have
stated now that they will not recognize the CEC’s results until the opposition
candidates who ran in the five disputed districts have been declared winners.
The opposition has also threatened to boycott the start of parliament’s new
session next month and to file complaints with Ukrainian courts and with the
European Court of Human Rights regarding the illegitimacy of the CEC’s actions,
asserting that the elections did not meet international standards and that the
results, quote, do not reflect the real will of the Ukrainian people.
The prosecutor general’s office has also announced that it has opened nine
criminal case of alleged illegal actions that took place during the election,
including cases of vote-buying. The prosecutor will also investigate the
circumstances of the disputed five single-mandate districts to determine if
there was fraud during the vote count.
All this suggest that Ukraine’s grass-roots democracy remains vibrant and
contentious and unlike in some countries, the October 28 election was, in many
ways, outwardly competitive, and to some extent, offered space for campaigning
and for voters to learn of their political choices. Interestingly, in
pondering what Ukrainians think of their choices and building on some remarks
that Steve made and just using the officially reported results to date, both of
the major political formations saw a loss in popular support in October’s
Both the United Opposition and the Party of Regions lost about 5 percent over
their performance five years earlier. Together, the two main parties, the two
main political formations, have dropped in public support from 65 percent to 55
percent as other formations have emerged and taken a larger share of the vote,
which again suggests that there is pluralism in political life in Ukraine, and
also it tells us that there is some disappointment in the governance and the
leadership demonstrated by the long-standing political leaders on both sides.
At the same time, the election process was in many respects not fair. While
the actual voting and counting in many places, as Orest personally reported,
was rated positively by international and local observers, there were clearly
structural problems, as outlined in both the OSCE and the State Department
statements afterwards, noting that this overall constituted a step backward for
Ukrainian democracy. By that we mean a step backward from the conduct of the
2006 and 2007 parliamentary elections and the 2010 presidential election that
brought Viktor Yanukovych into office.
Our concerns, cited in a collective assessment of the observation missions sent
by ODIHR, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly,
I think except for most Americans who were – American legislators who were
campaigning that week, I think all other legislators from Europe and North
America were in Ukraine on October 28. They all noted the abuse of government
resources to favor ruling party candidates, interference with media
organizations and access to media, harassment of some opposition candidates and
manipulation of election commissions as well as the exclusion, obviously – and
Katie talked very well to this – as well as the exclusion of major opposition
political leaders due to their incarceration following what we have
consistently described as politically motivated prosecutions.
We’ve also been troubled by allegations of fraud and falsification in the
voting – vote-counting process, by lack of transparency in some key aspects of
the vote count as well as the current controversy about the – counting the five
disputed electoral districts.
When I was in Yalta in September, my fifth visit to Ukraine in this job since
November 2010 – I think, in fact, it was exactly this week two years ago that I
went there for the first session of the working group under the bilateral
strategic partnership commission entitled “The Rule of Law in Political
Dialogue,” which has been an ongoing, very active discussion between American
and Ukrainian officials. When I was in Yalta in September, I said then that if
local and international monitors were to give a grade on the pre-election
environment up to that point, mid-September, and whether it was going to mark a
step toward Europe and the West, it would have failed the test at that point.
Regrettably, as the post-election monitoring reports have indicated, Ukraine’s
government failed thereafter to demonstrate adequate democratic bona fides,
using President Yanukovych’s often-repeated phrase. As Secretary Clinton said
two days after the October 28 vote, quote, like the rest of Europe, the people
of Ukraine deserve so much better. They deserve to live in a country with
strong democratic institutions that respects the rule of law. However, the
parliamentary elections did not advance those goals.
It’s against that backdrop that Ukraine prepares to assume the chairmanship and
office of the OSCE in January. Now, Ukraine still has the chance to restore a
measure of its democratic reputation by leading by example in the OSCE context
to investigate and resolve at least some of the problems that arose with the
election and ensure that similar problems do not occur in future elections by
implementing election reforms in line with the European standards and
demonstrating its commitment to the Helsinki principles on democracy and good
Now, the fact that on November 6th, a week after the Party of Regions failed to
secure a constitutional majority, the Rada adopted the change in constitutional
amendment procedures that Katie Fox described is not a good sign about whether,
in the aftermath of this election, the government of Ukraine is moving toward
European standards on democratic consolidation.
As we have for more than 20 years, the United States government remains
committed to the people of Ukraine and to working with the government of
Ukraine bilaterally and in the OSCE and in other multilateral contexts to
improve its democratic institutions, strengthen the rule of law and advance
essential reforms, including reform of the criminal justice system, which has
been a major priority. We reiterate our call on the leadership of Ukraine to
reverse democratic backsliding, and we offer our assurances that we will stand
with Ukraine as it moves forward.
A case in point – this is one of those cases where the United States – where
Washington puts its money where its views are. As our allocation of
approximately $5 million this year to support the election monitoring and
election administration efforts in Ukraine, we supported the presence of 260
Ukrainian and international long-term observers, 3,500 short-term observers, as
well as other activities to strengthen democratic processes during the course
of this election campaign.
Over the last 20 years, U.S. assistance to Ukraine has totaled more than $4.7
billion, making us the largest bilateral contributor of assistance to Ukraine
and Ukraine one of the top recipients of American assistance. USAID has been
the lead U.S. agency in this regard in Ukraine, working with us in DRL in the
State Department and the embassy very closely, informally coordinating with the
National Endowment for Democracy and other private foundations. In addition to
Phil Gordon, our assistant secretary, who has made this a major priority of his
tenure, the assistant administrator at USAID, Paige Alexander, I know has been
very focused on this. She also visited Ukraine just before the elections to
make clear to Ukraine how important an election with integrity will be for our
continued bilateral cooperation. And our vice president, as you know, has
maintained an ongoing dialogue with President Yanukovych, including in a phone
call since the election.
So we remain committed to engagement with Ukraine. We want to continue to help
Ukraine move towards its democratic future. And I remain optimistic about
Ukraine’s potential and prospective for change. Ukraine’s civil society,
visible here today, remains quite strong, and its citizens are dedicated to
building a modern democratic future. This commitment was clearly shown by the
millions of voters who participated last month and the many thousands of
dedicated poll workers and volunteers who toiled long hours on election day and
beyond, and in those many districts where Ukrainian citizens pushed back
against efforts to manipulate the election process.
The same holds true for relations with Europe and the United States. Ukraine’s
relations with the West do not have to stagnate or deteriorate. To quote EU
Commissioner Stefan Fule, the steps the Ukrainian government should take for
closer integration with Euro-Atlantic structures are not rocket science. We
know Ukraine is capable of taking the right steps. We just haven’t seen the
present government in Kiev make the policy decisions to do so.
As we and many other friends of Ukraine have said to government officials at
every level – I have this conversation with Ambassador Motsyk from time to
time; we have a very friendly, cordial and effective diplomatic engagement – we
say this publicly and privately: The best guarantor of Ukraine’s future
stability and prosperity is the pursuit and enactment of political, economic,
democratic and social reforms. Backsliding on democracy and selective
prosecutions interfere with the full development of the relationship many of us
would like to have with Ukraine.
Ukraine can be proud of many of its achievements, and young generations of
Ukrainians are now growing up with new freedoms, opportunities and a new
outlook. But there’s still much more work to be done. Our best partnerships
are always with like-minded countries who share our values, which include
commitment to democracy and rule of law, free speech, open markets and
protection of human rights. We will continue to offer our active support, but
Ukraine’s success will ultimately depend, as it always does, on the choices and
actions of the Ukrainian people. Thank you for your attention.
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Thank you very much, Tom, and thanks again to all our
panelists. And now we’ll move on to the question and answer part of the
briefing. And as I had mentioned earlier, I wanted to give the opportunity for
Ambassador Motsyk to offer the first question on this, whatever he’d like to
say. Unfortunately, we don’t have a standing mike, but if you could come up to
this mike over here, sit down if you want to, and please proceed. Make sure
you push the button on it.
AMBASSADOR OLEXANDER MOTSYK: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman,
Congressman Aderholt, first of all, I would like to express my appreciation to
Helsinki Commission for organizing this briefing. Ukraine was open to dialogue
before and during the elections, and we are open for dialogue now. I would
like also to express my appreciation to panelists for their valuable
contribution and remarks.
Talking about elections, I would like to say that we just witnessed the seventh
parliamentary election in modern Ukrainian history. Ukraine government made
significant effort to guarantee its integrity, fairness and consistency with
the Ukrainian law and international standards. However, no one is claiming
that the elections were 100 percent perfect. But it would also be incorrect
to characterize them only in a negative way. All observers or all observer
reports on election day activities have complimented Ukraine for the
professional manner in which the election was conducted.
The OSCE interim statement says that – and I quote – voting process was
assessed positively in 96 percent of polling stations and that international
observers reported only isolated instances of serious violations.
Most of the criticism of the elections focuses on pre-election period.
However, there are many positive findings that are being lost in criticism.
These findings do present a more democratic election that has been cited by
critics. Here are some of the important things that I would like to point out.
The new election law, with all its positive and negative aspects, was passed
with the strong support of all parties, including opposition ones. The vote
registry reached almost 100 percent accuracy, which is a very important step
forward if we compare with the previous situation. New regulations were passed
to prevent voting multiple times, so-called carousel voting –and this is also
very important forward.
The campaign was highly competitive, and voters had real opportunity to choose.
The level of competition was evident in every aspect of the campaign and the
election. Weekly national monitoring showed equal media coverage of all major
political forces. Web cameras were installed at all 34,000 polling stations to
Three hundred and seventy – 371,000 domestic – and I would like to repeat the
figure – 371,000 domestic – according to the Central Election Commission, and
almost 4,000 international observers had broad and comprehensive rights. We
sent early invitations to every institution in the world which wanted to
observe Ukrainian elections. Almost 900 journalists were accredited by Central
Election Commission and freely observed the election.
There were also some problems. District election commissions created by a
lottery system did not always include major parties, but I would like to point
out: created by lottery system. Fraud in ballot counting did not allow the
Central Election Commission to establish results in five of 225 single-mandate
districts. This is just a bit more than 1 percent of seats in parliament. Now
prosecutor’s office is conducting criminal investigations in these cases.
Two days ago President Viktor Yanukovych spoke with Vice President Joe Biden
and assured him that the Ukrainian government will do everything necessary to
complete the election process in a fair and transparent way. Let me stress
last election was legitimate and reflected the will of the people. Almost 60
percent of the voting population exercised its right to cast ballots.
Election results are consistent with every exit poll and parallel vote counts –
parallel vote count. The new parliament will be widely represented, with five
national parties, and will include 225 members elected directly from their
districts. The composition of the new parliament will include strong
opposition, will be vibrant and will represent all people of Ukraine, which is
really a step forward. Future election legislation and elections in general
will incorporate the lessons learned.
And last but not least, Ukraine has been continuing implementing systemic
reforms indicated by – initiated by current government in order to transform my
country into democratic, prosperous European state. We confirm that European
integration is number one priority of foreign policy of Ukraine, and Ukraine
will continue to do its best to be reliable partner of the United States.
Thank you very much.
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Thank you very much, Ambassador Motsyk.
We’ll start out – does anybody on the panel, perhaps the congressman, want to
ask each other questions or comment on the other’s presentation?
OK. Right. If not, then we’ll proceed with our question-and-answer. Please
come up to this microphone, please state your name and affiliation, and please
try to keep – you’re welcome to give a comment, but try to keep the comments
concise and the questions concise. Thank you very much.
Q: Good morning, everyone. My name is). I’m Olena Tregub – journalist and
entrepreneur as well. I am Ukrainian, and I spent this election period
actually in Ukraine, so I have a lot of my impressions.
But my question to the panel is not about the election itself but about the
future of Ukraine because we understand that Ukraine today is a presidential
republic, because parliament lost its legitimacy and its power, to a large
extent, and this election was actually part of the gaining – about securing
power in the future, securing power of Yanukovych and people around him. And
as you say, many of you pointed out that there was political competition in
Ukraine. There is even political competition inside the party of the power,
inside the people who surround Yanukovych. But given the results of this
election, my impression is that they fit very well into the future strategy,
future plan that Yanukovych is building for himself in 2015 to be re-elected.
I would like to hear your commentary about that. And how do you think the
future parliament will contribute to maintaining the power of Yanukovych in the
future? Thank you.
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Anybody want to take that on?
MS. AJVAZOVSKA: (Through interpreter.) I’m not sure if I can comment on such
an extended future plans. But with your permission, I would like to have a
brief comment responding to the comments of Mr. Ambassador.
Unfortunately, our constitutional majority of the members of Ukrainian
Parliament were 360 of them that voted for the new electoral law. It was a
result of political blackmailing and hand-twisting. A billion of Ukrainian – 1
billion of Ukrainian – (inaudible) – a significant amount equal to a total of
all other expenses related to equipment for the election were expended
specifically for these video cameras. These video cameras for some reason were
not used during the tabulation and counting of the votes. Additionally,
president directed state attorney or general prosecutor to investigate
irregularities during the elections. These investigations should take –
before the 12th of November. Nevertheless, we do not have that expected report
of the general prosecutor. A lottery that was implemented in order to select
electoral committee nevertheless included three-quarters of these – (inaudible)
– parties or the parties with the – (inaudible) – of placeholders. You would
not expect any level of fairness or efficiency from such a lottery.
Commenting back to the second question about the future of Ukraine perspective,
we expect discussion, a truly encompassing discussion for any future changes
into electoral law. And as soon as the seventh Verkhovna Rada, or the
parliament of Ukraine, starts to work on December 17, we should start preparing
– (inaudible) – for the next parliamentary elections.
Secondly, Ukraine should fulfill the obligation and promise that they give to
OSCE and the European Union, these promises in regard to the accepting the
electoral codes that would ensure the competitiveness of the elections. We
have the political will.
There is – there is a chance that the current – or the new Ukraine parliament,
seventh parliament, seventh Rada of Ukraine, does have a chance to be more
pluralistic and representative than the previous Rada. But it will be seen by
the first actions, the first step that they’re going to undertake,
specifically, on the technical – (inaudible) – that’s scheduled in the regular
parliament. That unfortunately has the possibility to legitimate an impersonal
vote in parliament.
MS. FOX: Thank you. I just want to add briefly to Olha’s remarks on both
counts in regard to – response to Ambassador Motsyk. I did – I want to point
out that there have been elections in Ukraine that were better in the judgment
of domestic and international observers, including the ones that brought
Yanukovych to power. So we know that Ukraine has the capacity to do this.
Second, in regard to what the next couple of years will bring and whether this
is part of a plan to secure greater power for the presidency and lead up to the
next presidential election, I want to reiterate to everybody in this room that
it is very important to continue watching what happens in Ukraine, as perhaps
the election law is changed; I mentioned the changes on how the constitution
may be amended. I don’t know what will happen, but I know that it’s very
important that everyone who cares about Ukraine continues to follow this. And
I know, for example, that OPORA will be monitoring the new parliament. I think
other civil society groups may be as well and issuing reports, and I hope that
we will all be following that. Thank you.
MR. NIX: Well, in response to the comments – here’s what we do know about the
parliament in the immediate future.
Number one, not only did the party in power fail to attain a constitutional
majority – it failed to get a majority. It has a plurality. It has to
coalesce with other parties. So that means the party in power has to coalesce
with the 32 communist party seats; at least that’s what we predict will happen.
But even if they get each and every one of those deputies, they will have to
gain an additional 12 – I guess now 16, since there are going to be reruns in
some single-mandate constituencies – but an additional 16 independently elected
candidates from single-mandate constituencies. So that is or could be a very
difficult coalition to maintain, as Ukraine takes up some very major difficult
votes on economic reforms that have been put off because of the election. So
it remains to be seen how this coalition will be built and how effective it
will be in terms of unifying in the long term.
Secondly, we do know that because of the number of MPs elected from opposition
forces, there will be a strong pro-Western in this particular parliament that
will be advocating for a continued progression towards Euro-Atlantic
institutions. And in the famous Ukrainian quote, you know, ni slovo a dia –
not words, but deeds. We have heard that Ukraine aspires to be part of the EU
and other Euro-Atlantic structures. It’s time for concrete deeds to back that
up. So that remains to be seen.
And the final point I’d like to make is again, back to the election law, one
can make the argument that had this law not been amended, Ukraine maintained
its old system, that the opposition could have maintained a majority in this
parliament. Under the current system, had the opposition forces united on a
single list of candidates in the single-mandate constituencies, by our
calculations, they would have won at least another 20 seats. So that would put
them in a – in a far stronger strategic position than they are now.
But I think it provides some viable lessons for the future as we look towards
the 2015 presidential elections. As was pointed out, Ukraine is very much a
presidential republic. This election will be critical for Ukraine. And I
think the opposition may have learned some lessons in terms of unity. And you
may see a unified candidate in those presidential elections. It will be
interesting to see how this develops.
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Indeed it will be interesting to see how it develops. Are
there any more questions? Please – Laura.
Q: I’m Laura Jewett from National Democratic Institute. I work with Katie Fox
on the Eurasia team. And I have a comment in response to the earlier question
about what the next few years will bring with the – with the parliament. And
it’s more of a theoretical response than a response directly about Ukraine.
But the point is that the strength of any legislature anywhere in the world
derives from the support of the voters that it has and the independence from
the government or the executive branch of the government that it has. To the
extent that fraud has brought MPs into office, that means that they lack
support of voters and are accountable not to voters but to whoever perpetrated
the fraud. And to the extent that that fraud was perpetrated by the government
or representatives of the government, it means they are accountable to the
government and less independent.
So election fraud inherently weakens the parliament regardless of the official
or constitutional or legal standing that the parliament may have. And I think
that’s one of the tragedies of fraud in this election, is that it – that it
harms the parliament and the strength that it may otherwise have had.
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Anybody want to comment on the comment? Thank you very much.
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Please.
Q: (Inaudible) – translation.
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Sure.
MR. : (Off mic) – from here, and –
Q: (Through interpreter.) Hello. I would like to have a brief comment. I
was – I participated in election. I was a candidate from opposition from 132nd
majoritarian district. I am very thankful and grateful for such – (inaudible)
– disciplinary approach in the study and analysis of our elections.
(Inaudible) – and what I’ve experienced during the election. (Inaudible) – had
a statement – I have to state very responsible – (inaudible) – that we
encountered not just few hundreds of irregularities – (inaudible) – that’s not
what we call irregularities – (inaudible) – some old lady, she did not
understand the ban on the kind of – (inaudible) – election – (inaudible) – the
campaigning is not allowed and regardless of the prohibition on campaigning,
she would complain. That would be an example of irregularity. However it was
done, what would happen in reality and what we used to call an improper use of
administrative resources, they in fact were raised to a level of criminal
activities that should be prosecuted, the crimes, and I would call them crimes.
And I can count thousands of such crimes committed by the government
There are one or two criminal cases that were started by the office of the
prosecutor for the regional electoral offices. (Inaudible) – level of criminal
activities, of the nature of the widespread of these activities, crimes. I
know more than five of the candidates from majoritarian districts that –
(inaudible) – protocols from – that would prove it. But so it is not
difficult to establish the results of the elections, but government does not –
as a matter of principle, they do not want the true count to be made public.
And it’s not the a matter of potential five additional members of parliament –
(inaudible) – reruns. (Inaudible) – government would prove by running these
legal reruns is the – (inaudible) – of the oppositions. So they would bury any
effort to attempt to gain a majority in the Parliament.
So calling these elections just one step backward would not be fair, in my
view. I would call them a step forward toward legitimization of an
authoritarian, dictatorial system of government that de facto already exists in
Ukraine and would only become stronger – (inaudible). (Inaudible) –
constitutional amendments there would be helped by the newly created
Parliament, and that’s exactly the goal of the current government.
That’s generally what I wanted to comment. Thank you.
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: Thank you very much, Mr. Kornatsky for your insights. And
indeed what happened to you in your district was truly egregious.
I wonder if the panelists want to comment on that. And I know then Paul has a
question. So does anybody wish to comment on Mr. Kornatsky’s –
MR. MELIA: Well, we’ve met with Mr.Kornatsky and heard about his case, and
we’ve made careful notation about that. And yes, we appreciate the fact that
he’s come forward today too.
MR. CARTER: OK. I would like to ask if any of our panelists could comment on
the impact of the incarceration of Yulia Timoshenko as what could be considered
under international standards as a political prisoner in Ukraine. What was the
impact of her exclusion from the election?
MS. AJVAZOVSKA: (Through interpreter.) I would offer some statistical data as
a response to this that were conducted by some sociological companies, well, it
was demonstrated that if the united opposition had Tymoshenko’s name on the
ballot, they would have won more votes, significantly more, from 5 (percent) to
7 percent of votes – that would enjoy an increase of 5 (percent) to 7 percent.
And the absence of Tymoshenko’s name on the ballot decreased the attractiveness
of voting for the united opposition. So all this just really proves the point
that the absence of Tymoshenko and her nonparticipation in this campaign –
election campaign certainly significantly impacted the results of the election.
Yes, once again it has impacted the results of the election.
MR. NIX: I would say – yes, I would agree, statistically, our survey research
indicated that Batkivshchina would have received a bump, within the margin of
error of what you just heard. So yes, we feel that statistically, there would
have been an increase in support and votes for the opposition.
From a political standpoint, again, I think the fact that she was not present
impacted on what I alluded to earlier in terms of the unity of the opposition.
She clearly and strongly came out in favor of a unified opposition in the
single-mandate seats, urged those who were part of that process to unify and
agree on one single candidate in every constituency. And this is just a
prediction on our part, but I think we can safely say that had she be present –
had she been present as part of the negotiations process, perhaps the
opposition would have made greater headway in agreeing on a single list of
candidates. So there are several effects that her presence would have had on
the ticket, I think.
MR. MELIA: I won’t speak to the political professionals’ analysis of the
likely effect on voting, but Tymoshenko’s prosecution and imprisonment clearly
has affected the international community’s approach to these elections. The
European Union, the United States have made very clear that the politically
motivated prosecutions that have led to the imprisonment of Tymoshenko and
Lutsenko are big problems in our relationship. It may be – all of the other
kinds of real, systemic shortcomings in the political and electoral process
that have been discussed here are important, but that is probably the most
visible flag over these elections. And it was clear in the joint op-ed that
Catherine Ashton and Hillary Clinton published a week or 10 days before
election day, and it remains true in our statements today. This coming Monday,
I believe the Foreign Affairs Council of the EU will be meeting, as they do
every month or so, and what to do about Ukraine is on the agenda for Monday in
Brussels. And this will be part of that discussion, no doubt. So –
MR. DEYCHAKIWSKY: OK, thank you. We have time, perhaps, for one very quick
question. Going once. Going twice. OK, if not, I’d like to once again thank
all of our panelists for their knowledge, their insights, their hard work, the
invaluable work each of you do. I want to thank all of our participants, our
questioners, our commentators, and all of you for your attendance. And I just
want to let you know that the written statements will be up on our website
shortly, the ones that were submitted, and an unofficial transcript of this
briefing will also be up on our website probably by close of business Monday.
Our website is www.csce.gov.
Thank you very much.