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March 20, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1073 2006-03-20 13:33 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Kyiv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A 

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

1. (SBU) Summary:  On March 14, Charge hosted a roundtable 
discussion with NGOs on the March 26 Rada (parliament) and 
local government elections.  One NGO representative predicted 
long lines at polling stations, and attributed the poor 
organization of the elections to a lack of government 
meddling in the election process (!).  Commentators described 
the public as being uninterested in the election campaign, 
and the parties as not addressing issues that affect normal 
people.  Observers described the media environment as good, 
with equal access to the media for all parties.  NGO 
representatives felt that legal challenges to the legitimacy 
of the election by opposition and losing parties were likely. 
 End summary. 

2. (SBU) In preparation for the March 26 Rada (parliament) 
and local elections, Charge hosted the sixth in a series of 
roundtable discussions with NGO representatives March 14. 

Election day simulation: expect lines 

3. (SBU) Oleksandr Chekmyshev of the Common Space 
Association/Equal Access Committee described a voting 
simulation conducted by his organization and the Committee of 
Voters of Ukraine (CVU) that modeled the entire voting 
process on election day, complete with 1,500 student 
participants, ballot boxes, and voting booths.  According to 
Chekmyshev, counting and distribution of ballots to 
commissioners could take up to 3 hours, and it took 2 minutes 
to collect one signature for a student participant, whereas 
it could take up to 5 minutes for an elderly person, making 
long lines at polling stations likely. 

4. (SBU) Ihor Popov of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine 
(CVU) described amendments to the election law passed earlier 
in the day by the Rada that would allow for voters' names to 
be added to the voter lists on election day, with a special 
stamp placed in voters' passports to prevent fraud.  The 
amendments would also increase the wages of polling station 
workers from 25 to 150 hryvnias.  Popov noted that CVU 
inquiries found that as many as 50 percent of voter names 
were misspelled on voter lists, and that most voters were not 
checking their names on the voter list prior to elections. 
Popov indicated that 20 to 30 percent of PSCs had not held 
their first meeting yet, and while this problem existed 
throughout the country, it was most prevalent in rural areas. 
 (Note:  Central Election Chairman Davydovych told us that 
541 PSCs out of 34,000 were not functioning.) 

Administrative meddling, or lack thereof 

5. (SBU) The poor organization of the March 26 elections, 
according to Popov, was attributable to the fact that, unlike 
in 2004, the executive branch had not been organizing or 
managing the elections, allowing organizational problems such 
as shoddy voter lists and non-staffing of PSCs more apparent. 
 Popov said that even if a local administration was using 
government funds to influence the outcome of the election, 
there was no clear-cut punishment for the perpetrators, and 
it was impossible to identify a party or region where such 
practices were being used.  Discussing the overall conduct of 
the election campaign and media environment, Inna Pidluska 
from the Europe XXI Foundation opined that the campaign 
itself was very dull, with the general public uninterested 
and apathetic.  Pidluska noted a steep decline in interest in 
roundtables, debates, discussions, possibly because political 
parties had not provided substantial information about their 
vision/agenda or how they were proposing to fund their 
platforms.  Ihor Kohut from the Laboratory for Legislative 
Initiatives agreed with Pidluska, observing that political 
parties had not been clear about their programs, and this 
could have contributed to the campaign's lackluster quality. 
Kohut offered as an example that there had been no clear 
stance on education, utilities costs, and other issues that 
affected normal people. 

Media environment 

6. (SBU) Discussing the media environment, Oleksandr 
Checkmychev from the Common Space Association/Equal Access 
Committee observed that "temnyky" did not exist anymore, but 
journalists were still passive.  Tatyana Lebedyeva from the 
Independent Association of Broadcasters noted that in those 
instances where journalists worked for media outlets that 
were ideological they could be instructed to project a 
one-sided view, but there was no pressure from the 
government.  Lebedyeva noted, however, that systematic 
foreign (i.e., Russian) influence remained strong in some 
regions such as Crimea.  Natalya Legachova from Telekritika 
added that, unlike during the previous campaign, all parties 
and blocs had equal access to the media. 

Contested Elections? 

7. (SBU) Yulia Tyshchenko from the Ukrainian Center for 
Independent Political Research opined that organizational 
problems could be used by some opposition parties to contest 
the legitimacy of the elections.  Ihor Popov from the CVU 
noted that, although it was unlikely that the election 
results could be s
uccessfully challenged, the possibility 
existed on the basis of some parties' claim of unfairness 
because of long queues and inaccuracies in voter lists. 
Popov thought it possible that a smaller bloc, such as 
SDPU(o)-founded Ne Tak, that did not get enough votes to 
overcome the three-percent barrier to enter the Rada, would 
challenge the results at a number of PSCs, potentially tying 
up the election results in months of court appeals.  Ihor 
Kohut of the Laboratory for Legislative Initiatives added 
that there were endless possibilities for challenging the 
legitimacy of elections since many things could be 
interpreted as violations.  (Note:  A March 14 amendment to 
the Parliamentary Election law passed by the Rada and 
subsequently signed by Yushchenko enumerates the grounds for 
challenging the results at a polling station.) 

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





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