Opposition rallies for honest election vote count

  More than a week into the vote count after the Oct. 28 parliamentary election, opposition parties gathered a rally in Kyiv to protest alleged fraud and pressure the Central Election Commission to right the wrongs at the most troublesome constituencies.

The rally, as well
as the opposition’s threat to not recognize the election because of
mass vote tampering, and reject their mandates in the new parliament,
are a part of a campaign to reign in vote counting and tallying in 12
constituencies, where fistfights, tear gas, questionable court orders
and special police units have been a part of the drama.

Around 1,000 people
carrying flags of all three oppositional parties, Batkivschyna, UDAR
and Svoboda filled the square in front of the CEC, according to
police estimates from Berkut, the special police unit whose uniformed
guards were also bused in. They had to share the square with market
traders, who have been ordered in the past few months by the local
administration to come here to sell fruit, fresh meats, honey and
other foodstuffs.

A police car, parked
by the road, had a speaker phone blasting the same message over and
over again, warning that the public gathering was illegal and was
banned by the Kyiv district administrative court.

“We’re asking you
to adhere to Ukrainian legislation, and voluntary fulfill the court
order and disperse,” the message blared. “We’re warning you, that
in case of non-compliance with the court order, the police will be
forced to use the means of influence foreseen by law and special

The warning was no
accident. Berkut and other police forces have used tear gas in at
least three cases during the vote count in some constituencies,
including at two polling stations in Kyiv and one in Pervomaisk, in
the southern Oblast of Mykolyaiv. They have also prevented
journalists from entering polling stations, and confiscated ballot
boxes, according to media reports.

There are 12
single-mandate districts where troubled delays with vote tabulation
continued on Nov. 5, more than a week after the polls closed. Vitali
Klitschko, leader of UDAR, which should receive at least 40 seats in
the new parliament, gave a speech at the rally, saying “it was a
grave mistake” to conduct the election based on a mixed system,
since the most cynical and obvious fraud takes place in the
single-mandate districts.

In some cases, for
example at three precinct commissions of constituency 184 in Kherson
region, the opposition discovered that the data sent electronically
to the CEC was different from the data in paper reports. In
constituency 94 in Kyiv region, a Party of Regions representative
Tetyana Zasukha was caught on video pressuring members of the
district commission.

In Kyiv, district
223 remains the only one in Ukraine where
only 88.11 percent of ballots were counted up by mid-day on Nov. 5.
In all of these constituencies the opposition claims to be winning,
and accuses the ruling Party of Regions of trying to manipulate the
vote. But even with results in some constituencies still up in the
air, the three opposition parties may be getting 180 seats in
parliament out of 450.

“We’re not going
to accept all these manipulations, with which the election is
happening,” Klitschko said at the rally. He added that the
opposition is suggesting that the president should intervene in the
process of vote counting as a guarantor of constitutional rights.

“If he fails to fulfill
his function, we will demand an early parliamentary election along
with a presidential,” he told a cheering crowd.

Arseniy Yatseniuk,
leader of Batkivshchyna, who was the moderator of the rally, also
said that the opposition will demand that criminal cases are opened
against those members of district commissions who took part in
falsifications, as well as against judges who approved unlawful
decisions and members of local administrations who interfered.

Some protesters in the
crowd said they were taking part in the election process and
witnessed the pressure and fraud with their own eyes.

“I was a member
of polling station commission in Brovary, from the
United Opposition and it was very hard as they did not want
any representatives of the opposition forces in the commission,”
said Svitlana Ivashchenko, a middle-aged woman. “I had to file
complaints and threaten with lawsuits to get in. My husband
works in the city administration and now is pressured because he
voted for the opposition. I hope he is not fired. I am sick and tired
of this. What is there left to do but to come out and protest?”

Various members of the
opposition camp made it clear that they were mulling other actions,
too. Viktor Pynzenyk, the former finance minister and member of UDAR
party said the opposition will have to turn down its seats in the new
parliament because it will not reflect the will of the people. “Our
political force is considering this possibility,” he told Channel 5
over the weekend. But he said it was “a matter of principle” that
all three political forces take the decision together.

However, one senior
member of the same party told the Kyiv Post on the condition of
anonymity that talk of turning down seats in Rada was pressure on the
Party of Regions. “Nobody has money for a re-election, including
the Party of Regions,” UDAR member said.

At the rally, it was
clear that the opposition do want their seats – but all of them. By
the end of the rally, leaders of the three parties produced a series
of demands.

“We demand that
in those districts where the protocols show the victory of the
opposition candidate, that they proclaimed the winner. In those
districts where the protocols are damaged or destroyed, the re-voting
should be held in single candidate constituencies…We also demand
from the president and general prosecutor to open criminal cases
against those who orchestrated and executed the falsification,”
the statement read.

Kyiv Post editor
Katya Gorchinskaya can be reached at
gorchinskaya@kyivpost.comKyiv Post staff writer Svitlana Tuchynska can be reached at tuchynska@kyivpost.com


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