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06KIEV1109, UKRAINE: REGIONS PARTY CONSULTANT ON ELECTION

March 22, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1109 2006-03-22 16:17 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.

 

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KIEV 001109 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM OSCE
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: REGIONS PARTY CONSULTANT ON ELECTION 
INTEGRITY 

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

1. (SBU) Summary:  On March 17, AmCit Catherine Barnes 
(please protect), a member of the consulting team from U.S. 
political consulting firm Davis-Manafort working for the 
opposition Party of Regions, told USAIDOff that Regions 
officials had expressed concern over the potential for 
"substantial fraud or abuse" in the March 26 elections. 
Regions, according to Barnes, was anticipating taking action 
to prevent or detect fraud on election day.  Barnes also 
said that Regions felt that administrative shortcomings 
disproportionately, and negatively, impacted the party's 
constituency and were sufficiently widespread to undermine 
the integrity of the elections.  Finally, Barnes opined that 
the OSCE/ODIHR mission was biased against the party, based 
upon the international organization's stance regarding use 
of the Russian language and comments by its deputy mission 
chief.  End summary. 

2. (SBU) On March 17, USAID Elections Advisor met informally 
with Catherine Barnes, a member of the consulting team from 
Davis-Manafort working for the Party of the Regions. 

Fears of fraud and countermeasures 
---------------------------------- 

3. (SBU) Barnes noted that, although according to Central 
Elections Commission (CEC) Chair Davydovych the Party of 
Regions (PoR) was the best organized in terms of staffing 
PSCs throughout most of Ukraine, the Party had not been able 
to secure a representative in each of the roughly 33,000 
polling stations.  Regions Party documentation provided by 
Barnes indicated that PoR was without representation on 126 
commissions in Odesa; 277 in Ivano-Frankivsk; 964 in Lviv; 
263 in Sumy; 126 in Cherkasy; and 73 in Kiev. 

4. (SBU) Since PoR did not have strong, reliable supporters 
in some of the regions, the party anticipated bussing some 
party poll watchers from the central regions to specific 
regions in western Ukraine where the party was weakest. 
Unlike in 2004 where thousands of people were reportedly 
engaged in this manner, Barnes estimated that approximately 
1500 Regions party poll watchers would travel to the west 
for this purpose. 

5. (SBU) In addition to the party poll watchers, PoR would 
deploy several hundred roving attorney-cameraman tandems in 
order to respond to incidents as they occurred.  Counter- 
intuitively, most of these teams would be deployed in the 
east.  Barnes explained that Regions anticipated having to 
rebut allegations (by pro-presidential parties) of fraud in 
the east.  (Note:  Barnes was unable to explain how an 
attorney and cameraman would be able to record the absence 
of fraud.) 

Administrative shortcomings 
--------------------------- 

6. (SBU) Echoing concerns expressed by the independent, pro- 
democracy NGO Committee of Voters of Ukraine and other 
observation missions regarding the inaccuracy of voter 
lists, Barnes stated that Party of Regions believed the 
lists were worst in the east and south, where PoR supporters 
tended to be concentrated.  Barnes attributed this 
phenomenon to the fact that the source documentation for the 
lists were in Russian, and numerous errors resulted from a 
software program that translated common words from Russian 
to Ukrainian instead of merely transliterating.  The common 
example cited in the press -- Mr. Sparrow -- was merely 
illustrative according to Barnes, although she claimed to 
have documentation of other voters whose names were changed 
under the translation program.  (Note:  Although Barnes 
provided extensive Regions documentation of alleged errors 
in the voter lists of Crimea, most involved misspellings due 
to transliteration, and only two examples of translation 
problems were cited.  Further, Ambassador Kopaj, Head of the 
OSCE/ODIHR observation mission reported that their long-term 
observers (LTOs) had yet to identify any such examples of 
translation errors.)  Barnes acknowledged that errors of 
transliteration were not of concern since the law plainly 
provided that polling station commissioners could make 
technical corrections to the voter lists on election day. 

7. (SBU) Barnes shared that PoR representatives had been 
physically verifying voter lists in certain regions and 
later provided documentation of their conclusions in Crimea. 
The report contained very specific assertions about streets, 
apartment buildings, and even individual apartments omitted 
from lists in some precincts.  It further catalogued 
problems in the operation of the PSCs, duplications of 
buildings and/or names, erroneous identification of 
residents at specific addresses, deceased voters included on 
the voter lists, repetitions and variations of last names, 
and requests for voting at home via the mobile ballot box. 
Less specifically, the document tallied the number of 
"missing voters" in each precinct without identifying what 
source documents were being used for comparison.  Note:  CEC 
Chair Davydovych earlier reported that approximately 800,000 
"dead souls" had been removed from the voter lists. 

8. (SBU) According to Barnes, the PoR believed the 
amendments to the law on parliame
ntary elections allowing 
for the formation of PSCs irrespective of party nominations 
(reftel) was a positive, but potentially not curative step. 
PoR retained concerns that voters had not been able to 
verify their names on the voter lists because many PSCs were 
not functioning.  Although Barnes conceded that this problem 
was not endemic to a particular region, PoR believed that, 
because the voter list problem was worse in the eastern and 
southern regions, the failure of PSCs to begin work in a 
timely fashion would potentially disenfranchise its voters 
disproportionately. 

OSCE/ODIHR bias? 
---------------- 

9. (SBU) Barnes expressed disappointment with the OSCE/ODIHR 
election observation mission, explaining the PoR did not 
believe its concerns were being taken seriously.  PoR 
officials felt this way based upon comments allegedly made 
the by the OSCE/ODIHR deputy head of mission and 
inconsistencies with past OSCE/ODIHR practice.  Although 
Russian is not an official state language in Ukraine, Barnes 
maintained, OSCE/ODIHR missions in other countries had 
advocated for the use of minority languages in election 
materials, irrespective of whether the languages had 
official status.  Were it not that the language at issue 
here was Russian, Barnes said Regions suspected, OSCE/ODIHR 
would argue that dual-language balloting was required to 
protect voters' rights.  Barnes quoted the OSCE/ODIHR deputy 
head of mission as dismissing these concerns saying 
"everyone can speak Ukrainian."  (Note:  We will look into 
this allegation and the allegation below.) 

10. (SBU) In furtherance of the claim that the OSCE/ODIHR 
mission was biased against the PoR, Barnes described as 
flippant the OSCE/ODIHR deputy head of mission's response to 
the concern that the election law adversely impacted PoR 
supporters by requiring voters to have Ukrainian passports, 
rather than the old Soviet passport.  Barnes quoted the 
deputy as allegedly saying:  "Aw come on, it's been 15 
years!  They've had time to get new passports."  Barnes 
found this argument unreasonable, as she asserted most 
people who had not applied for new passports were quite 
elderly.  (Note:  This issue was not included among the PoR- 
proposed amendments to the election law submitted to the 
Rada the week of March 13.) 

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

HERBST

 

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