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06KIEV481, UKRAINE: THIRD ELECTION ROUNDTABLE

February 3, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV481 2006-02-03 16:26 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kyiv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 000481 

SIPDIS 

SENSITIVE 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: THIRD ELECTION ROUNDTABLE 

REF: A. 05 KIEV 5137 

     B. 05 KIEV 4892 

(U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for Internet 
distribution.  Please handle accordingly. 

1. (SBU) Summary:  At an Ambassador-hosted roundtable 
discussion January 25, NGO representatives felt that the 
recent gas and government crises could hurt ex-PM Tymoshenko 
in the elections.  One observer expressed doubt that a Rada 
majority coalition would be formed after the March 26 
elections, possibly leading to new elections.  The NGO reps 
opined that, while there would be no centrally organized 
electoral fraud, there might be some abuse of administrative 
resources by local politicians.  They noted that procedural 
problems stemming from recent changes to the election law 
could open a route for legal challenges to the validity of 
the elections.  The NGO representatives observed that holding 
the parliamentary and local elections at the same time would 
create confusion and could potentially lead to violations of 
election law.  End summary. 

2. (SBU) In preparation for the March 26 parliamentary and 
local elections, Ambassador hosted the third in a series of 
roundtable discussions with NGO representatives January 25. 
Ambassador observed that the upcoming elections were every 
bit as important as the 2004 Presidential election, and 
stated that while they probably would not be as problematic 
as in 2004, there were still many problems, particularly at 
the local level.  Ambassador noted that there would be 
another large international observer effort this year, as 
during the 2004 Presidential election. 

Impact of Gas Crisis and Government Crisis 
------------------------------------------ 

3. (SBU) Discussion started with a review of the impact of 
the gas crisis and the Rada dismissal of the government on 
the parliamentary election.  Ilko Kucheriv of the Democratic 
Initiatives Foundation summarized his organization's 
predictions on post-election composition of the Rada. 
Kucheriv predicted 6-7 parties would be in the Rada, with 
ex-Prime Minister Yanukovych's Party of the Regions garnering 
the most seats, followed by President Yushchenko's Peoples 
Union Our Ukraine (OU) and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT), 
followed by the Socialists, Communists, Lytvyn's bloc, and 
possibly Natalia Vitrenko's hard-left Progressive Socialist 
Party.  Kucheriv opined that neither Regions nor Yushchenko 
and Tymoshenko combined would have a majority in the Rada, 
leading to a period of instability after the elections. 
Kucheriv noted that the President could dissolve the 
Parliament and call new elections if a majority coalition 
could not be formed. 

4. (SBU) On the impact of the Rada vote to dismiss the 
government, while Kucheriv did not have any polling data 
since the dismissal vote, he thought Tymoshenko stood to lose 
the most because her supporters might switch their support to 
Yushchenko.  Yuliya Tyshchenko from the Ukrainian Center for 
Independent Political Research thought that the government 
crisis could increase disillusionment with politics in 
general and the Rada specifically.  Tyshchenko thought that 
Tymoshenko could lose a lot of support to Yushchenko due to 
the crisis and that it brought into question whether a 
reunification of the Orange team was possible.  Roman Koshovy 
from the Lviv branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine 
disagreed, saying he thought Tymoshenko supporters would be 
unlikely to switch their votes to Yushchenko because they 
were generally more radical in their support for Tymoshenko. 

Electoral Law Violations and Administrative Resources 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 

5. (SBU) Ambassador commented about the importance of 
monitoring violations in the electoral campaign and on 
election day.  Oleksandr Chernenko of the Committee of Voters 
of Ukraine said that most electoral law violations and uses 
of administrative resources were the initiative of local 
authorities, without orders from the center.  Chernenko noted 
some problems in the formation of District Election 
Committees (DECs), namely that some DECs were formed before 
and some after the December 20 Presidential signing of 
amendments to the election law, resulting in DECs formed 
under different legal environments.  Before December 20, an 
unlimited number of party representatives could serve on the 
DEC, chosen by the local council, whereas after December 20 
the number was limited to 15 party representatives chosen by 
a lottery. 

6. (SBU) Roman Koshovy of the Lviv CVU said this trend was 
also present in Lviv, with one DEC having 22 members and no 
intention of disbanding and re-forming in conformity with the 
revised election law.  According to Chernenko, this disparity 
provided a vehicle for legal challenges to the validity of 
the vote.  Chernenko noted that many people implicated in 
electoral violations in the past had been appearing on 
electoral commissions for the Parliamentary election, 
offering the example of an alleged vote-rigger who was 
appointed to a DEC in Uman, but was ultimately forced to 
resign when the CVU publicized her record.  (Note:  DECs are 
the election comissions to which polling station commissions 
(PSCs) report in the parliamentary election, the role filled 
by Territorial Election Commissions (TECs) in the 2004 
Presidential elections.  In the March 26 elec
tions, TECs will 
be separate organizations with a supervisory role over 
polling station commissions for the local elections.) 

Party List Transparency 
----------------------- 

7. (SBU) On the subject of party lists, Tetyana Boyko of 
Pora! (i.e., Black Pora, the NGO, not the Yellow Pora 
political party) indicated that some parties were trying to 
keep from publicizing their party lists, particularly at the 
local level, because allegedly corrupt individuals appeared 
on their lists.  Boyko stated that a lot of former SDPU(o) 
and Lytvyn bloc members were showing up on the OU list in 
Lviv and Lviv Oblast, including many who had put pressure on 
Pora! during the 2004 Presidential campaign and Orange 
Revolution.  Roman Koshovy from the Lviv CVU cited instances 
of regional "splittism," where erstwhile coalition partners 
split and ran independently on the local level due to 
disputes over the composition of their electoral list. 

Media Environment 
----------------- 

8. (SBU) Oleksandr Chekmyshev of the Common Space 
Association/Equal Access Committee noted that the main 
television channels were much more balanced in their 
reportage than during the 2004 Presidential campaign. 
Chekmyshev noted that NTN and Ukraina still showed some 
Yanukovych sympathies, while TV1, 1 1 and Inter lean toward 
OU.  Regionally, Chekmyshev noted that media in the Donbas 
region were still vulnerable to administrative resources use 
by Regions.  Chekmyshev said that the state-controlled media 
in Donbas tended to support Yanukovych because they were 
bankrolled by local politicians and business interests that 
supported Yanukovych.  Chekmyshev noted the increasing volume 
of negative advertising, particularly aimed at the Orange 
camp.  When queried by Ambassador about whether this was an 
issue of journalists being forced to say things or a case of 
partisan mudslinging, Chekmyshev confirmed that it was not 
administrative resources, just dirty politics. 

Training of Election Commissions 
-------------------------------- 

9. (SBU) Chernenko from the CVU reported that CVU training 
projects for election commission members were proceeding 
apace, with 100 trainings already conducted and 100 more 
planned.  Chernenko noted that, while the trainees were 
enthusiastic, the quality of the election commission members 
could be better.  Chernenko also noted that the government 
was not effective in coordinating the training of election 
commission members, sometimes not allocating rooms for 
training, and not budgeting enough money for training 
expenses.  Chernenko estimated that 70-80 percent of election 
commission members would have received training by election 
day.  Tyshchenko from the Ukrainian Center for Independent 
Political Research indicated that they were holding 144 
seminars in four regions of the country.  Tyshchenko said her 
organization had experienced some isolated problems, 
particularly with Regions not wanting to send its Donetsk and 
Luhansk commission members for training. 

Holding Local and Parliamentary Elections Simultaneously 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 

10. (SBU) Lviv CVU representative Koshovy said that CVU 
lawyers had conducted an analysis of the Local and 
Parliamentary election laws and determined that the result 
would be "unpredictable" elections.  According to Koshovy, 
polling stations would have to count the parliamentary 
election votes first, then package up the ballots and send 
them to the DEC.  The only way to maintain the integrity of 
this process would be to have a second ballot box for the 
local election, but this would cause confusion and might be 
technically illegal, according to Koshovy.  Chernenko from 
the CVU indicated that Yushchenko would likely sign 
amendments to both the local and parliamentary election laws 
extending both their voting hours from 7 am to 10 pm.  (Note: 
 Yushchenko signed these amendments January 31.) 

11. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
HERBST

 

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