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06KIEV1313, UKRAINE ELECTION SNAPSHOT: IN TERNOPIL, TYMOSHENKO

April 3, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1313 2006-04-03 16:12 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 001313 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM OSCE
SUBJECT: UKRAINE ELECTION SNAPSHOT: IN TERNOPIL, TYMOSHENKO 
WINS BY A NOSE 

REF: KIEV 1192 

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

1. (SBU) Summary:  We observed Ukraine's March 26 Rada and 
local elections in Ternopil city, capitol of the eponymous 
western oblast that voted 96% for Viktor Yushchenko in 
Ukraine's 2004 presidential election and 69% for Our Ukraine 
in the 2002 parliamentary elections.  In 2006 voting for the 
parliament (Verkhovna Rada), Yuliya Tymoshenko's Bloc (BYuT) 
won a close victory over President Yushchenko's Our Ukraine 
(OU) in a race marred by observed and reported procedural 
irregularities (although of an unknown scale).  In one 
instance, results we recorded during the vote count at 
Polling Station Commission (PSC) 44 differed from those 
delivered to the District Election Commission (DEC) 12 a few 
hours later, with 100 less votes reported for BYuT and 10 
more for OU.  At the same PSC, partisan observers alleged 
that 200 ballots had been issued without voters signing the 
voter list, a local election candidate had been "helping" 
with the vote count, and eight unmarked, unaccounted for 
ballots were found lying around the PSC.  At another PSC 
located in a home for the elderly, the home director, who was 
running for the village council, was present during voting, 
and the staff were asking whether residents had voted for the 
director.  End summary. 

Tymoshenko wins in the west 
--------------------------- 

2. (SBU) Conventional wisdom heading into the March 26 
elections was that Our Ukraine would take western Ukraine, 
BYuT the center, and Regions the east and south.  On election 
day, though, BYuT met with success in the west, scoring 
pluralities in Rivne (reftel), Volyn, Khmelnytsky, 
Chernyvtsi, and Ternopil oblasts, in addition to taking 
pluralities in nine central regions.  (Note:  Our Ukraine won 
Ukraine's three westernmost oblasts, while Regions won in 10 
southern and eastern regions.)  BYuT's margin over Our 
Ukraine in Ternopil was a razor-thin 0.33% of the vote (or 
2189 votes, 34.48% to 34.15%).  Third place went to the 
rightist Ukrainian People's Bloc of Kostenko and Plyushch 
with 10.18% (since they did not pass the 3% barrier 
nationwide, they will not be represented in the national 
Rada), followed by the Socialists (3.64%), Pora-PRP (3.09%), 
and Regions (2.01%).  In the 2002 Rada elections, only two 
parties passed the then-4% barrier to enter the national 
Rada, with OU winning a commanding 69.01% in Ternopil to 
BYuT's 18.83%.  Ternopil was solidly Orange during Ukraine's 
2004 presidential race, delivering 96% to Yushchenko during 
the December 26 revote. 

3. (SBU) An Embassy team directly accredited with the Central 
Election Commission (CEC) observed the election in Ternopil, 
a city of 220,000 people, the capitol of Ternopil Oblast, an 
agrarian region of Ukraine with a population of 1.1 million. 
President Viktor Yushchenko graduated from the Ternopil 
Institute of National Economy.  In Ternopil, we observed the 
elections at a District Election Commission (DEC 165) 
overseeing the Rada election, two Territorial Election 
Commissions (TECs - charged with overseeing the local 
elections), and eight Polling Station Commissions (PSCs). 

PSC 44 - incompetence or fraud? 
------------------------------- 

4. (SBU) While the conduct of the elections was largely free 
and fair, some irregularities appeared to occur at PSC 44 
(DEC 165), where we recorded the vote count results from the 
PSC protocol.  The PSC chair inexplicably did not deliver 
these results to the DEC until 12 hours later; the protocol 
delivered contained different numbers from the ones we 
recorded, with 100 less votes for BYuT and 10 more votes for 
OU.  When the inaccurate protocol from PSC 44 was brought to 
the attention of the DEC chair, he left the room, then told 
his staff to "do what you want."  None of the DEC 
commissioners seemed to understand the issue, and no decision 
was taken.  Finally, the PSC chair decided on her own to go 
to another room and recount the ballots.  Strangely, the 
packages of actual counted ballots had the correct 
information recorded on them, as opposed to the incorrect 
numbers recorded on the protocol.  OSCE/ODIHR observers 
covering the same DEC noted that other protocols were being 
delivered with incorrect numbers, raising the question of how 
many voters in DEC 165 may have disenfranchised due to 
counting/recording errors. 

5. (SBU) In other potential violations at PSC 44, observers 
representing the Pora-PRP and Kostenko-Plyushch blocs claimed 
they had videotaped 200 voters receiving ballots without 
signing the voter list; they requested the PSC chair sign 
their challenge to the results.  When the chair refused to do 
so, the partisan observers said they would appeal in court, 
since 200 voters represented more than 10% of the total 
number of voters at the PSC, constituting grounds under 
Ukrainian election law to throw out the PSC's results.  We 
were unable to follow up with these observers regarding their 
potential court challenge, but as of March 30 the results for 
PSC 44 appeared unchanged on the CEC website.  We also found 
8 unmarked ballots that contained voters' names (voters must 
sign their ballots when they rec
eive them) lying around the 
voting premises of PSC 44 during the vote count.  One 
commissioner said that these ballots had mistakes and would 
be destroyed later, but the unused ballots had already been 
tallied and packaged for transfer to the DEC.  We are unsure 
how these ballots were accounted for on the PSC protocol 
(note: there is a line for spoiled ballots -- those which 
have more than one party marked, for instance -- separate 
from the "vote against all" category"). 

A little help from my friends? 
------------------------------ 

6. (SBU) Another issue of concern we saw in Ternopil was 
observers or candidates intervening in the election process. 
At PSC 44, a candidate for the municipal council, present as 
an observer, participated in the vote count under the pretext 
of "helping out," in violation of regulations.  Similarly, at 
DEC 165 a BYuT observer "helped" correct a protocol, until it 
was mentioned that this was the responsibility of the DEC 
commissioners.  At PSC 6, located at a senior citizens home, 
the home's Director, who was running as a candidate for the 
village council, was present during the vote.  We overheard a 
nurse from the facility helping the elderly vote asking, "Do 
you support our Director as a member of the village council?" 
 The residents inevitably replied in the affirmative. 

Poor organization 
----------------- 

7. (SBU) Disorganization led to some long lines; voters at 
PSC 37 waited approximately two hours to vote.  Despite the 
long lines, people appeared willing to wait.  PSCs complained 
to us that they were not provided with sufficient funding, 
often having to supply their own phones, pens and paper; in 
one instance, we observed a fight over the sturdy brown paper 
used to package the ballots for delivery to the DECs/TECs. 
There was much grumbling that the 150 hryvnya pay (125 
hryvnya after taxes, about $25) for working on a PSC was not 
sufficient compensation for the long hours of work involved. 

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

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