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Committee of Voters of Ukraine: July 2004 Report
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REPORT: "On The Pre-Presidential Election Environment, July 2004"
Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU)
Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, August 12, 2004
KYIV - The first month of Ukraine's four-month presidential election campaign was marred by significant illegal government interference, according to the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU), an election monitoring organization.
Presenting the results of its comprehensive, nationwide election observation during the month of July, CVU reports that various governmental or state-owned institutions are providing illegal assistance to the campaign of the main pro-government candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.
THIS INTERFERENCE INCLUDES:
 The use of state resources (money, property and equipment) for campaign purposes.
 State officials conducting campaign activities during working hours, while drawing state wages.
 State employees and students being obliged to take part in public rallies and other campaign events. Often, participants are offered bribes or compensatory time off for their participation. At other times, they are threatened with dismissal should they refuse to participate.
 State officials coercing citizens to sign nomination forms for Yanukovych. (Every candidate is required to collect 500,000 signatures by September.)
State resources and officials are also being used to obstruct the campaigns of other candidates. The most serious such case involved the large public rally in Kyiv of Viktor Yushchenko on July 4. Traffic police, road inspection authorities and railway officials acted in concert to prevent thousands of Yushchenko supporters from reaching the capital that day.
Elsewhere, independent media have seen their activities restricted and campaign workers have come under pressure.
Further information on these and other CVU observations from July is provided in the report that follows.
COMMITTEE OF VOTERS OF UKRAINE
REPORT ON THE PRE-ELECTION ENVIRONMENT, JULY 2004
The Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) is a national, non-governmental organization that has been monitoring election campaigns in Ukraine for over ten years. CVU observes the degree to which election processes conform with national legislation and international democratic standards.
Presidential elections in Ukraine are scheduled for October 31st, 2004. In July, CVU observed the activities of national and local governments, political parties, candidates' headquarters and the mass media. CVU representatives are present in all 27 administrative regions of Ukraine.
Previous election reports as well as more information on the organization can be found on our web-site: www.cvu.org.ua.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS:
1. The first month of the election campaign was marred by significant government interference in the election process. This interference illegally disadvantages opposition candidates.
2. The most common violations were connected with the process of signature collection for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Citizens were induced to sign through administrative pressure, bribes or deceit. In some cases, pro-Yanukovych signatures were forged. Oddly, no other candidate mounted any serious signature collection campaign, even though it is a requirement under the law.
3. The election campaign continues to be marked by violence against political party activists and campaigners.
4. Local authorities have failed to meet their responsibility to administer the election process. In many localities, voter lists have not been updated, election commissions have not been given proper office space and areas in which election materials can be posted have not been announced.
5. The electronic and print media generally does not provide voters with objective and unbiased information about the various candidates.
 State officials should refuse to campaign for political candidates and should refrain from using their power and resources for the benefit of any candidate.
 Law enforcement authorities should thoroughly investigate all reports of election violations and prosecute those believed to have broken the law.
 The campaign headquarters of Viktor Yanukovych should refuse to turn in fraudulent signatures and those collected under duress. It should ensure that future activities on the candidate's behalf are undertaken according to the law.
 Voters whose legal rights are violated should consider appealing to courts for redress. Political parties and civic organizations are prepared to provide free legal assistance in many cases.
 Journalists, editors and owners of media outlets should respect professional ethics, provide balanced coverage of the election campaign and refrain from disseminating false or misleading information. They should also make a greater effort to inform citizens of their electoral rights.
 Local authorities should complete voter lists as soon as possible.
Illegal Government Interference in the Presidential Election Campaign
I. IN SUPPORT OF VIKTOR YANUKOVYCH
Kharkiv: A July 12 rally in support of the Prime Minister was attended by over 40,000 people. Many participants were forced to attend by their employers who had been given quotas from government officials for the number of people they were expected to send. Workers at the "Komunar" factory were promised a day off in exchange for their participation. Employees of other enterprises were threatened with dismissal if they did not cooperate.
Kharkiv: Local officials organized and paid out of public funds for a pro-Yanukovych youth rally on July 30 in Kharkiv city. Young employees of the government and state-owned enterprises were obliged to take part.
Kharkiv: Yanukovych campaign headquarters in several areas (Frunze, Komintern, Lozova, Sakhnovschyna and Kegichiv) are located in official government offices and are staffed by state employees.
Kharkiv: Government health-care administrators visited a hospital in Nova Vodolaga on July 19 dressed in white gowns and wearing badges saying "I am for Yanukovych". They ordered workers to collect signatures for the candidate.
Dnipropetrovsk: Official documents of the Zhovtnevy rayon (county) executive committee report that the "main work of the executive committees
focused on explaining V. Yanukovych program to citizens. On July 6, at a meeting of veterans' organizations, an expert on working with political parties campaigned for Yanukovych ."
Donetsk: Yasynuvata railroad workers were obliged, on July 22, to go to a Yanukovych campaign office and sign a petition in support of the candidate. They were instructed to do so by the railway's human resource department.
Sumy: Local officials ordered hospital workers to attend a public meeting with the Prime Minister on July 7. As a result, doctors in Konotop stopped seeing patients at 11am. In several towns, public buses were commandeered in order to bring people to Putyvl to meet Yanukovych.
Kirovohrad: On July 20, at a college on Lenina street, CVU observed 23 teenagers forging signatures on a list in support of Viktor Yanukovych.
Kirovohrad: Equipment has been removed from a college in Novogorodkiv and a library in Golovoniv and taken to Yanukovych campaign offices.
Kyiv: The chief doctor of Vasylkiv hospital, Ms. Patsale, forced hospital workers to collect signatures for Yanukovych. She told workers that anyone who signed for another candidate would be "exposed" because she had "people on the CEC".
Kyiv: Doctors in the city of Vyshneve invited pensioners to state-run clinics for free examinations. The patients were first required to sign for Yanukovych.
Kyiv: State officials in Bila Tserkva rayon called a meeting of village mayors and the head of state-run agrarian and industrial enterprises on July 16. Participants were given quotas for signature collection for Yanukovych. Rayon head S. Vakhniy said that anyone who did not ensure the victory of the Prime Minister would "never set his foot in Bila Tserkva after October 31st"
Volyn: Every Thursday, teachers in local schools are instructed to vote for Yanukovych. Workers in state-run utilities were tasked with collecting
signatures for him. Government officials take an active role in Yanukovych campaign meetings, during regular working hours.
Khmelnitsky: Employees of the Khmelnitsky arts museum were directed to sign for Yanukovych by the oblast (state) culture department. The museum director was ordered to ensure 100% compliance or face sanction.
Chernivtsi: The Putyl rayon administration organized public meetings in every village in support of Yanukovych.
Lviv: A citizen of Chernyliavo village, Anastasia Stepanivna Tyrko, reports that she was forced to sign a petition in support of Yanukovych at the local post office in order to receive her monthly pension.
Zakarpattya: Hospital administrators have ordered doctors in Uzhgorod to collect 130 signatures in support of Yanukovych from their patients.
Sevastopol: The head of the city administration, L. Zhunko, made a public speech supporting Yanukovych during regular working hours. He arrived at the meeting in a government car.
II. TO OBSTRUCT OTHER CANDIDATES, INDEPENDENT MEDIA
AND CIVIC GROUPS' ACTIVITIES
Nationwide: Police and state traffic inspectors in at least half the oblasts of Ukraine prevented supporters of Viktor Yushchenko from traveling to Kyiv to attend the candidate's public rally on July 4. Vehicles were stopped and had their license plates removed or were subject to very long "inspections" and drivers had their licenses taken away. In other cases, state officials advised transportation companies to refuse to travel to Kyiv on that day. Railway workers in Kirovohrad refused to sell tickets to Kyiv-bound passengers. In Kherson, buses returning from Kyiv were impounded; police told drivers that they had been warned not to "leave the city on such business".
Dnipropetrovsk: The independent Donetsk-based newspaper "Ostriv" ("The Island") was turned away from a print shop in Pavlograd, on "technical grounds", the 14th consecutive print shop in eastern Ukraine to deny its services to the paper. CVU believes that there is a government-coordinated campaign to close the paper.
Dnipropetrovsk: The "Region" TV station was closed on July 8 by officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. "Region" representatives say the action was taken because they had begun to rebroadcast programs of "Channel 5", a television station associated with opposition candidate
Dnipropetrovsk: Traffic police officers impounded a minibus belonging to Our Ukraine MP Yuri Pavlenko on the grounds that pro-Yushchenko slogans painted on the bus "violate current legislation".
Zakarpattya: Uzhgorod city authorities are conducting an administrative audit of the media company "Vitas". The investigation violates the President's directive that all such investigations of the media would be suspended during the election campaign.
Luhansk: Campaign workers for Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz were expelled from Novopskovsk rayon after they were detained while handing out leaflets. The police justified their expulsion on the grounds that
they were "strangers in the border zone". Ten out of seventeen rayons in Luhansk are on the Russian border.
Luhansk: CVU was abruptly denied access to a facility it had rented to train a multi-partisan group of future election commissioners. The state official in charge of the facility explained the reversal on the grounds that members of the Rukh party would be present.
Kharkiv: A citizen of Eskhar village, A. Holub, reports that he was detained while distributing a pro-Yushchenko newspaper. Afterwards, his apartment was searched several times, his relatives were threatened and finally, he was asked to work for another candidate. Holub has complained to the local prosecutor's office.
Chernivtsi: Local police were seen removing legally placed campaign posters for Viktor Yushchenko on July 29.
CRIMINAL VIOLENCE AGAINST POLITICAL ACTIVISTS
Zhytomyr: A car carrying Andriy Shkil, an opposition member of parliament, was stopped by two other cars on July 9th. Shkil was removed from his car and beaten for 10 minutes. The police are not known to have taken any action on this case.
Sumy: A minibus carrying Yushchenko supporters to Kyiv was stopped by an SUV. A number of men jumped out of the SUV with metal objects in their hands. The minibus fled and was pursued for several kilometers. Police are not known to have taken any action on this case, even though the license number and owner of the SUV are known.
Kherson: The Kherson election HQ of Viktor Yushchenko was destroyed on July 20.
Kherson: The car of the leader of the Our Ukraine faction in the Kherson city council was set on fire on August 3.
Lviv: Grygoriy Sozin, an activist for Oleksandr Moroz, was assaulted on July 29 while putting up campaign posters.
Lviv: A woman collecting signatures for Moroz was assaulted on July 31 in Novyi Rozdil. She was threatened with further violence if she continued her activities.
Zakarpattya: The editor of the local newspaper "Tribune" was assaulted while collecting signatures for Oleksandr Moroz.
Kirovohrad: Nina Oliynyk, a worker for Nataliya Vitrenko, was assaulted on July 25 while collecting signatures.
Poltava: On July 27, the apartment of the manager of the Yushchenko campaign in Zinkiv was broken into. The apartment was ransacked but no valuables were taken.
Chernihiv: The city headquarters of the Communist party was vandalized on July 16.
SOME WEAKNESSES IN ELECTION ADMINISTRATION
The Central Election Commission appears to be functioning normally so far. The CEC conducted the candidate registration process competently and organized territorial election commissions (TECs) according to the law. The number of voters between TECs can vary by as much as 100,000, however. This places an unnecessary burden upon some commissions.
Local government authorities have failed to live up to their administrative responsibilities. In many areas, voter lists have still not been prepared, even though the deadline to do so was in early July. In Lviv oblast, for instance, no city besides Lviv itself had completed its voters list when CVU checked on July 14. In other areas, local officials have failed to meet the legal requirement to designate those areas of the city in which candidates can place campaign materials. In Sevastopol, the city issued the necessary directive only after an appeal by CVU.
BIAS IN THE MEDIA
The large majority of electronic and print media, both publicly and privately-owned, does not provide citizens with objective and balanced coverage of the various candidates and campaigns. Most media outlets give disproportionate coverage to Prime Minister Yanukovych, whom they present in a consistently positive light. Other candidates receive less coverage and are usually portrayed negatively.
In some instances, media outlets have openly distorted information. The coverage on the national TV channel "1+1" of the party meeting that nominated former Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh gave viewers the false impression that a large number of party delegates opposed Kinakh's nomination. When a small number of delegates (6%) voted against Kinakh at the convention, they were met with cries of "Shame". "1+1" transposed this audio segment onto video imagery of the announcement of Kinakh's nomination, making it seem as if delegates were crying "Shame" against the majority's decision.
The August 4 edition of the state-run "Presidential Newsletter" reported that the "Washington Times" newspaper had endorsed Prime Minister Yanukovych when, in fact, it had printed a letter to the editor from a Yanukovych supporter.
More information on the media in Ukraine can be found from the "Equal Access Committee" and "Association Common Space":
http://prostir-monitor.org. (END) (ARTUIS)
Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU), 01135, Kyiv-135, a/c 5,
phone/fax: 380 44 490 61 34; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.cvu.org.ua.
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