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06KIEV1039, UKRAINE: CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION CHAIRMAN ON

March 16, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1039 2006-03-16 15:51 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 02 KIEV 001039 

SIPDIS 

SENSITIVE 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION CHAIRMAN ON 
ELECTION PREPARATIONS 10 DAYS BEFORE E-DAY 

(U) Sensitive but unclassified, please handle accordingly. 
Not for internet distribution. 

1. (SBU) Summary:  Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairman 
Yaroslav Davydovych told Charge March 16 that Ukrainian 
authorities were working hard to address the organizational 
concerns that have arisen regarding the administration of 
March 26 elections, specifically staffing of polling station 
commissions (PSCs) and voters lists.  Even though election 
day would not be perfect, he predicted that the election 
would still culminate Ukraine's most successful election 
cycle ever, without grounds to question its legitimacy.  He 
said that issues about organization had been inevitable due 
to the sloppiness of the election laws, which were hastily 
written and adopted as part of the "grand compromise" packet 
of legislation including constitutional reforms passed 
December 8, 2004, as well as the lack of a national registry 
upon which to base voters lists.  Davydovych said that 
ironically, the greatest number of the 541 non-functioning 
PSCs as of March 15 were in Kyiv oblast; election laws gave 
PSC commissioners the authority to issue ballots to voters 
even if there were a slight mistake in transliterated names 
(Russian to Ukrainian).  Davydovych credited lead opposition 
party Regions with being the most organized party.  However, 
he criticized Regions' conscious strategy to politicize 
procedural shortcomings by alleging that the problems 
reflected an intentional strategy of parties in power to 
create problems on election day.  Davydovych predicted that 
the "general trends" in results of voting for the Rada would 
be clear by late March 27, but that official final results 
would take several more days to compile.  End summary. 

Problems exist, but being addressed 
----------------------------------- 

2. (SBU) Charge met with CEC Chair Davydovych March 16 to 
discuss reported concerns about organization of the 
elections, specifically inadequate PSC staffing and voter 
list inaccuracies (refs A-B).  Referencing the frequent 
meetings held in the 2004 election cycle, Davydovych said 
that the very fact that they had not met until ten days prior 
to March 26 was an indication that the 2006 campaign was 
going much more smoothly.  Charge noted the excellent 
cooperation the Embassy and CEC enjoyed and underlined our 
support of Davydovych's efforts to hold the freest and 
fairest elections in Ukraine's history while demonstrating 
Ukraine could hold elections unmarred by administrative 
resource abuses. 

3. (SBU) Davydovych admitted the 2006 elections would not be 
perfect.  He noted that this election cycle would be the 
first time in Ukraine's 15 years of independence that it 
would conduct elections on a fully proportional 
representation basis.  That novelty created certain 
complications.  Furthermore, the laws on elections to the 
Verkhovna Rada (national parliament) and to local 
bodies/positions had been passed as part of a large package 
in December 2004 that included constitutional changes as part 
of the grand compromise to allow the 2004 presidential 
elections to be re-run.  As a result, MPs' attention to the 
details of the initial legislation had not been sufficient to 
properly scrub the drafts.  The Rada had subsequently amended 
the election laws several times to address concerns as they 
emerged, most recently March 14.  Davydovych emphasized that 
even without the March 14 technical amendments to improve the 
administration of the March 26 elections, the legality and 
legitimacy of the elections should not have been under 
question.  The amendments simply made the organization and 
administration of the electoral process easier. 

PSC Formation 
------------- 

4. (SBU) Davydovych said that it was difficult to pinpoint 
how many PSCs were non-functioning due to inadequate 
staffing, since the number fluctuated daily as some PSCs 
started working and others suffered from commissioners 
quitting.  As of March 15, he claimed that only 541 out of 
34,000 PSCs were not functioning; much to the CEC's surprise, 
the biggest problem seemed to be in Kyiv Oblast, with 75 of 
157 PSCs in and around Boryspil not properly staffed and 67 
in Brovary not staffed.  In Donetsk Oblast, there were 
problems in some towns, surprising since the CEC had expected 
parties to be able to muster representatives there (in 
comparison with more rural areas). 

5. (SBU) Bill 9222, which passed March 14, permitted the 
appointment of additional commissioners up to the median 
level, allieviating the pressure on PSCs in which only the 
minimum number for a quorum were working.  Davydoych cited 
two contributing factors to the staffing shortfall: the 
inability of political forces to fully staff all PSCs due to 
a lack of regional structures/personnel throughout the 
country; and the simultaneous balloting for local elections, 
stripping off many experienced commissioners who were running 
for local office/councils and thus could not serve as 
commissioners.  Full staffing of PSCs would be the focus of a 
nationwide conference call Davydovych would conduct at 1200 
hours March 16 with all 225 District Election Commissions 
(DECs). 

6. (SBU) Davydovych
 said that he hoped the Rada would learn a 
lesson from this election cycle and subsequently alter the 
law so that in the next cycle, the responsibility for 
staffing committees would not only fall on political parties 
but be shared with local administrative structures.  The CEC, 
government structures, and parties should be acting as 
partners from the beginning to ensure the smooth 
administration of elections, he stated. 

Voter Lists 
----------- 

7. (SBU) Davydovych downplayed the scope and significance of 
the voter list problem.  While acknowledging problems 
existed, he emphasized that this was not a result of ill 
will.  Improvements to the voter lists was now the top 
priority of PSCs.  Regarding transliteration concerns, he 
stated that the law allowed PSC commissioners to issue 
ballots to voters whose name on the voter list and on 
identity documents differed slightly.  Regarding the "dead 
souls" issue, a noted phenomenon on the 2004 voter lists, 
Davydovych said that 800,000 names on the roles for the 
December 26, 2004 revote had been removed for the 2006 cycle. 

8. (SBU) The real issue regarding voter list improvements, 
asserted Davydovych, was the lack of a national registry of 
Ukrainians.  Since Ukrainian law did not require registry of 
all people, there was no unified data registry from which to 
draw an authoritative, up-to-date voter list.  Until such a 
registry was established, there would always be voter list 
concerns, unfortunately. 

Regions playing politics, but conducting themselves better 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 

9. (SBU) Davydovych stated that the challenge of improving 
voter lists was complicated by the use of the issue as an 
election-related tactic by opposition parties.  Regions in 
particular was claiming that the lists were imperfect due to 
the purposeful intent of those in power to deny some 
Ukrainians the right to vote.  Davydovych predicted that even 
if the numbers of affected voters come election day were 
small, Regions would attempt to claim the discrepancies were 
on a far more massive scale in an attempt to compromise the 
government and potentially to question the legitimacy of the 
results.  The end-game of the campaign seem to have gotten 
away from a debate about socio-political-economic issues, he 
mused, reduced instead to complaints about the organization 
and adminstration of the elections. 

10. (SBU) That said, Davydovych gave Regions credit for being 
the best organized party in terms of staffing PSCs throughout 
most of Ukraine -- with the exception of areas in the west 
where the party simply had no support or personnel, for 
submitting the most documents, and for being the subject of 
the least number of complaints about violations. 

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

 

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