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06KIEV1040, UKRAINE: ELECTION OBSERVERS OSCE/ODIHR AND ENEMO

March 16, 2006

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06KIEV1040 2006-03-16 17:09 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.

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KIEV 001040 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/16/2016 
TAGS: 
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: ELECTION OBSERVERS OSCE/ODIHR AND ENEMO 
ON PROCEDURAL PROBLEMS IN RADA ELECTIONS 

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i., for reasons 1.4(a,b,d). 

1. (C) Summary:  In a March 16 meeting with Charge, 
OSCE/ODIHR Ambassador Lubomir Kopaj said he thought the 
Central Election Commission was making efforts to deal with 
electoral procedural problems, but that election day would 
still be problematic, particularly due to precinct 
overcrowding.  Kopaj opined that while there were problems 
with the voter lists and non-functioning polling station 
commissions (PSCs), these problems were solvable, and of a 
much lesser scope than opposition political parties alleged. 
Kopaj expressed concern that the campaign environment was 
becoming acrimonious and that the politicization of 
procedural problems could lead to tension.  Representatives 
of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations 
(ENEMO) told Charge separately March 16 that their 
observations told them that the much-complained about 
election administration problems were the result of 
disorganization, not a government-engendered conspiracy. 
Voters who tried were having success getting on voter lists, 
and the CEC was aggressively trying to fix outstanding 
problems.  End summary. 

2. (C) Charge met with OSCE/ODIHR Ambassador Lubomir Kopaj 
March 16 to discuss acknowledged election procedure problems 
and their potential effect on Ukraine's March 26 Rada 
(Parliament) and local government elections.  Earlier in the 
day OSCE/ODIHR held a briefing for the diplomatic community 
on their election observation efforts. 

3. (C) Kopaj told Charge that he agreed with Central Election 
Commission (CEC) Chairman Davydovych that the main problems 
with the  elections were staffing Polling Station Commissions 
(PSCs) and the quality of the voter lists.  Kopaj offered 
that the CEC was doing a great deal to improve the situation, 
but other potential problems concerned him about the 
situation on election day and during the vote count.  Kopaj 
noted that there were many precincts with too many voters on 
their rolls, 1200 precincts with more than the maximum 
recommended number of 2500 voters, and two notable precincts 
in Mykolayiv oblast with 3600 and 3700 voters.  Kopaj thought 
that it would be very difficult to process this many voters, 
and that there would be lines, exhausted commissioners, and a 
potential for unrest or misconduct in the polling station. 

Environment getting tense? 
-------------------------- 

4. (C) Kopaj expressed concern that the campaign environment 
had turned "sharp," with the Party of Regions alleging that 
President Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc was planning a 
systematic rigging of the election, and Our Ukraine running a 
half-hour television presentation about the criminal 
backgrounds of some candidates on the Regions list.  Kopaj 
pointed up a number of recent protests in Kiev that garnered 
more than 1000 protesters, as well as rumors that 
approximately 5000 Our Ukraine members would be going east to 
serve as observers or on PSCs, as signs that the pre-election 
situation was getting tense.  Although he said that he had no 
specific reports of tensions from his long-term observers 
(LTOs) in the field, Kopaj expressed concern that politicized 
technical election issues could lead to confrontation rather 
than attempts to resolve them.  Kopaj noted that in eastern 
Ukraine, anti-government forces were presenting procedural 
problems with the election as a structured GOU plan to 
exclude eastern voters from the election.  The effort to 
politicize the CEC's organizational shortcomings concerned 
him. 

Allegations of misconduct mixed, procedural problems fixable 
--------------------------------------------- --------------- 

5. (C) Kopaj stated that OSCE/ODIHR had received a number of 
allegations of electoral misconduct on the part of the 
authorities from the Party of Regions and the 
SDPU(o)-dominated Ne Tak Bloc, and had investigated the 
allegations thoroughly.  Some allegations were concrete and 
therefore verifiable, but most were "vague, exaggerations, or 
even completely false."  Those they had verified did not 
appear to be centrally orchestrated and were limited in 
number.  Kopaj offered as an example of unfounded allegations 
claims that, on the voter lists in the east, names were not 
just transliterated from Ukrainian to Russian, but in some 
cases names were translated.  Kopaj said that his LTOs had 
been unable to find any verifiable instances of this actually 
happening.  Another example Kopaj offered were the 
overinflated reports of non-functioning PSCs, which only 
accounted for 1-2 percent of all PSCs.  (Note:  CEC head 
Davydovych told us earlier in the day that there were only 
541 non-functioning PSCs out of 34,000 -- septel.) 

6. (C) Kopaj said he thought all of the procedural problems 
were fixable, and that if political parties would expend the 
same effort on fixing the problems as publicizing them, they 
could substantially improve the process.  Kopaj offered the 
example of a protester in front of the CEC bearing a placard 
saying "My name isn't on the voter list" who could easily go 
to his election precinct and get his name put on the list. 
When questioned about the geographic distribution of 
non-functioning polling stations, Kopaj asserted that 
non-functioning PSCs were throughout the country, and that 
there wasn't an east-west divide.  Kopaj indicated that the 
primary cause for the non-fun
ctioning PSCs was the failure of 
political parties to ante up their representatives for the 
commissions; it was mostly small parties that were not able 
to fill their seats on PSCs.  Kopaj concluded that the 
election was not badly prepared. 

Adding voters on election day: double-edged sword 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 

7. (C) On the March 14 Rada-passed amendment to the 
parliamentary election law allowing voters to be added to the 
voter list on election day, Kopaj said there were conflicting 
messages over whether President Yushchenko would sign the 
amendment.  (Note:  Reports are that Yushchenko will sign the 
other two, less controversial, amendments.)  In any case, the 
effect of the amendment was uncertain.  Kopaj thought the 
provision could help potentially disenfranchised voters, but 
could also be misused.  Kopaj said that Davydovych predicted 
that the CEC would have trends of election results by the 
evening of Monday, March 27, and more definitive results by 
Tuesday, March 28.  Because of this, Kopaj said ODIHR's 
preliminary statement on Monday afternoon, after the 
election, would be based mostly on observer reports on the 
voting procedures and some reports from the vote count. 

EMEMO sees no conspiracy, says problems are being fixed 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 

8. (SBU) Peter Novatny, mission chief of the election 
monitoring organization ENEMO (European Network of Election 
Monitoring Organizations) told Charge March 16 that the 
election arrangements problems being hotly discussed in 
recent days were, from their observation, the result of 
mismanagement and disorganization, not some central 
government attempt to affect the vote.  President Yushchenko 
had in fact instructed the Presidential Secretariat to keeps 
its hands off electoral arrangements matters.  Contrary to 
the hue and cry some parties were raising over 
disenfranchised voters, the citizens they saw trying to 
legitimately place or correct their names on voters lists 
were having success.  PSCs were doing their best to help 
them.  The CEC, ENEMO advisor and Freedom House rep Juhani 
Grossman said, appeared to be agressively doing its part to 
fix voter lists and inadequate PSC staffing issues.  He added 
that the only way to determine the state of the voter lists 
would be their use on election day.  His sense was that the 
lists might prove to be better than their 2004 predecessors. 

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

 

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