(Washington, DC--December 6, 2004) Massive government fraud invalidated the second round of Ukraine's presidential election, two Ukrainian analysts told a RFE/RL audience this week. Orest Deychakiwsky, Staff Advisor for the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director of Freedom House, said that a massive presence of domestic and international monitors documented election fraud throughout the voting and ballot counting.
Deychakiwsky said that the elections were "stolen", illustrating his conclusion with several examples of voter fraud. During a visit to a polling center in "Precinct 93" in the town of Kirovohrad at the time of the vote count, Deychakiwsky noted that 1,221 votes had been counted in favor of opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko and 725 votes for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. The next day, after returning to Kyiv, the Territorial Election Commission (TEC) reported sharply different final results for that same precinct -- awarding Yanukovych 1,670 votes to Yushchenko's 276. Additionally, Deychakiwsky said that the Kirovohrad polling station opened at 4:10 p.m. when it should have opened at 8:00 a.m. He said that as much as five percent of the total reported Yanukovych vote was illegal, due to pro-government institutions organizing various group voting schemes.
Windsor said that, despite government control of the media and the "deployment" of considerable state resources, the pre-election efforts of opposition parties in voter education and mobilization during the campaign were impressive. She said that 45 NGO's produced voter material honed through focus groups and targeted to regional issues. The civic groups built coalitions and collaborated in the pre-election campaign more than in any previous election with a goal of turning out the youth vote. On election day, the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) deployed over 1,000 monitors from 16 foreign countries, to serve with 10,000 domestic, non-partisan observers. International observers increased their presence for the run-off election to reinforce efforts for a transparent and fair election. Windsor said that domestic and international observers worked in 200 of Ukraine's 225 electoral regions, and were crucial to the election.
Deychakiwsky said that the following conditions would be needed for a a free and fair election in Ukraine: a functioning free media; candidate and voter intimidation must end; candidates and voters need to feel safe; and the electoral process would have to correct problems with absentee balloting and "mobile voting" procedures. He also said that if repeat elections occur, the process will not only test Ukraine, but the West as well. As a result, the West must provide the resources to again field independent election observers in sufficient numbers to ensure a free and fair election.
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