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March 14, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV987 2006-03-14 17:18 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

141718Z Mar 06


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 000987 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2016 

REF: A. KIEV 912 

     B. KIEV 936 

Classified By: Charge d'affaires, a.i., reason 1.4 (b,d) 

1. (SBU) Summary:  On March 14, the Rada (parliament) 
addressed election-related concerns about deficiencies in 
Polling Station Commission (PSC) staffing and in the voters' 
lists voiced by Central Election Commission Chair Davydovych, 
NGOs, and political parties in recent days (refs A-B) by 
passing a series of technical amendments to the election law 
and budget law.  While some changes were clearly necessary, 
other proposals proved fodder for the election campaign and 
mutual charges of intent to commit fraud.  The amendments in 
Bills 9222 and 9208 to improve PSC staffing and fund higher 
stipends and last-minute voter education outreach received 
wide-ranging support, and Yushchenko is expected to sign 

2. (SBU) The bill to allow election day changes to voter 
lists was politically polarizing, however, and President 
Yushchenko's representative in the Rada suggested Yushchenko 
would veto the version of Bill 9185 that passed, which would 
authorize local courts to approve election day additions to 
voter lists.  The initial proposal by Party of Regions to 
authorize the PSCs to amend their own lists was rejected; a 
compromise version verbally offered by Rada Speaker Lytvyn 
passed after the Socialists switched to support the bill. 
Yushchenko's Rada representative warned Yushchenko would veto 
9185 due to concerns about fraud and procedural 
irregularities, and Orange parties fingered the Regions' 
ability and track record of mischief in Donetsk as the 
primary reason for their opposition.  In contrast, the head 
of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) Ihor Popov 
supported all of the amendments; Popov also expressed concern 
that those who wished Ukraine ill would take advantage of 
expected election day difficulties to question the election's 
legitimacy.  End Summary. 

Addressing staffing shortfalls, other glitches 
--------------------------------------------- - 

3. (SBU) A staffing shortfall problem at PSCs was created 
inadvertently by an election law that mandated committee 
representation by any Rada faction with 15 MPs at the time of 
the passage of the law (September 2005) at all 33,000 PSCs. 
This was exacerbated by low compensation for PSC service, the 
inability of the Yushchenko government to organize a 
nationwide effort effectively, and PSC commissioners' legal 
responsibility for elections violations, according to the 
CVU's Popov.  The Rada's March 14 fix, Bill 9222, authorized 
District Election Commissions (DEC), which form the 
intermediate level between the CEC and PSCs, to staff the 
PSCs with candidates nominated from a range of sources:  the 
DEC itself, PSC, party organizations, NGOs, and local 
administration officials (mayors, district chiefs).  Bill 
9208 amended the budget law to increase stipends for those 
serving as commissioners from 16 hryvnia ($3.20) to 150 
hryvnia ($30) for three days' work. 

4. (SBU) Note:  9222 also allowed changes to the local 
election ballots without requiring the ballots be reprinted; 
authorized printing of ballots in private printing houses, 
since government-owned printing firms could not produce all 
required ballots for all districts; clarified the allocation 
mechanism under proportional representation for the local 
elections; allowed PSC commission members to cast ballots at 
the PSC where they will work on election day; clarified the 
procedure for voiding election results at a PSC; and required 
the CEC to provide distance instruction via TV and Radio for 
PSC commissioners and to conduct additional public education 
outreach for voters. 

Addressing voter list politicized fashion 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 

5. (SBU) Proper staffing of PSCs should help address a second 
concern: the quality of the voters' lists.  In the absence of 
many functioning PSCs, some voters did not have the 
opportunity to check whether they were listed properly in the 
lists.  CVU head Popov told us March 14 that he estimated 
more than 20 percent of PSCs remained non-functioning at the 
beginning of March; when CVU representatives had examined 
lists in detail, up to 50 percent of the names had mistakes, 
mainly from transliteration (Russian to Ukrainian). 

6. (SBU) Party of Regions attempted to secure passage of a 
separate bill March 14 that would have authorized PSCs to 
amend voter lists on the spot on election day; Regions, the 
Communists, SPDU(o), and Lytvyn's two factions supported the 
proposal, but the motion failed to gain the required 226 
votes.  When Rada Speaker Lytvyn verbally offered an "amended 
version" authorizing additions by court order only, the 
Socialist Party switched its votes to support the measure, 
allowing 9185 to pass.  An AmCit working on U.S. political 
consultant Paul Manafort's advisory team to the Yanukovych 
campaign told Charge March 14 that Regions found the version 
that passed an acceptable compromise.  CVU head Popov told 
Charge at a March 14 Embassy-hosted election roundtable that 
the requirement to stamp a voter's passport after a 
court-issued directive to add the name to the
 voter's list 
provided some protection against malfeasance. 

7. (SBU) All the "Orange" factions voted against both 
versions of 9185: Our Ukraine; Tymoshenko's Bloc (BYuT); 
Rukh; Reforms and Order; Kostenko's Ukrainian People's Party 
(UPP); plus the reportedly Yekhanurov-affiliated 
"Vidrodzhennya" (Revival) faction.  Their objections focused 
on the potential for malfeasance in Regions-dominated 
Donetsk, where Regions still wielded overwhelming 
administrative strengths.  Our Ukraine MP Yuri Karmazin said 
that Our Ukraine voted against 9185 because even five or ten 
people simultaneously submitting appeals at a PSC on voting 
day could create a diversion for ballot stuffing and other 
violations.  Ivan Zayets from UPP added that some Donetsk 
precinct commissioners had added up to five thousand people 
to their voter lists on previous election days; Our Ukraine 
representatives held a press conference March 10 alleging 
that PSC voter list alterations had already occurred, with 
flawed 2004 lists replacing the newer 2006 lists. 

8. (SBU) Yushchenko's Rada representative Yuri Klyuchkovsky 
told a USG-funded elections project implementer after the 
vote that Yushchenko was almost certain to veto 9185 on two 

-- the fraud that occurred during the 2004 Presidential 
elections, which he did not want repeated; and 
-- the violation of procedures for introducing a draft bill; 
the vote had been taken on a verbally expressed idea, without 
anything on paper indicating specifically what was the 
subject of the vote. 

9. (C) Commenting on the expected bill on March 13, BYuT 
campaign chair Turchynov told visiting EUR DAS Kramer and 
Charge that BYuT saw no need for legislation which only 
heightened the potential for abuses in administering the 
elections.  He noted that while the voter list had problems, 
Party of Regions had effective administrative control in 
eastern Ukraine and he did not want to give them a tool to 
facilitate falsification  (he added that Our Ukraine had 
similar control in some parts of western Ukraine). 

10. (C) When Charge raised the procedural concerns with 
Presidential Chief of Staff Rybachuk March 13, Rybachuk asked 
what the CVU thought (note:  a notable embrace of the 
positive role an NGO can play in the democratic process). 
Rybachuk pledged to talk to the CVU and to CEC Chair 
Davydovych, adding: "We're in charge of ensuring the 
elections go well." 

Can there be a downside to no admin resource abuse? 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 

11. (C) The Rada's March 14 amendments show a determination 
to try to address technical problems in the administration of 
the electoral process identified in the run-up to the 
election before it is too late.  According to CVU's Popov, 
some of the weaknesses stem from the Yushchenko 
administration's aversion to using administrative measures to 
force local officials to carry out election-related duties; 
Popov noted that under Kuchma, chief of staff Medvedchuk 
would bully local officials to ensure proper PSC staffing, 
but Yushchenko was intent on avoiding accusations of 
administrative pressure on the process.  Popov said an 
unintended result was that oblast officials were more 
concerned about cutting deals with potential new members of 
oblast councils to prevent themselves from being impeached 
than effectively organizing the elections. 

12. (C) Popov noted that it was entirely possible that a 
party bloc that was likely to fall under the three-percent 
threshold to enter the Rada could challenge the results at 
almost any PSC, citing that the PSC was not functioning by 
the legal deadline, that voters were unable to check their 
names on the list, or that voters were unable to vote due to 
long lines.  In Popov,s opinion, any party with enough 
lawyers could lock up the election results in the courts, 
leading to several months of judicial gridlock.  Popov said 
that election administration could prove very messy March 26. 
 He stressed twice that the disarray could open the GOU to 
criticism "by the Russians, black forces, and bad guys" and 
be used to question the results of the election. 

13. (C) Comment:  Political parties continue to seek 
advantage by politicizing the electoral process, and some 
will no doubt try to call into question the legitimacy of the 
March 26 elections.  The same parties behind the original 
version of Bill 9185 (which would have authorized PSCs to 
approve election day additions to voter lists) -- Regions, 
Communists, SPDU(o), and what is now the Lytvyn Electoral 
Bloc -- fought tooth and nail in the Rada in December 2004, 
prior to the December 26 revote which elected Yushchenko, 
against amendments designed to prevent fraud carried out by 
Yanukovych's legions in the first two rounds, claiming that 
limits to absentee and mobile balloting impeded the 
constitutional right to vote.  Yanukovych's lawyers then 
exhausted every legal recourse after the revote to try to 
invalidate the results, delaying Yushchenko's inauguration. 

14. (C) It appears that similar dynamics may again be in 
play.  The expected election day confusion March 26 (long 
lines, overcrowded polling stations) may be an inconvenience 
to average citizens and neutral observers, but it could well 
provide an easy pretext for domestic parties dissatisfied 
with the results to bring multiple legal cases in the courts, 
and for external actors with an axe to grind in Ukraine to 
try to create doubt about the validity of the elections. 
Longstanding and recurring problems with inaccurate voter 
lists and imperfect polling station commissions appear to be 
a fact, but what makes this election different from its 
predecessors in Ukraine is the absence of evidence that the 
central authorities plan to systematically use these 
weaknesses, or any others, as tools to determine the outcome. 

15. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website at: 





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