Systematic Violations of Election Law in Ukraine – 2 days before voting

Oct 26th, 2012 | By | Category: Election 2012, In Depth, Ukraine

The violations of election law happened during last 40 days of election campaign are likely to have most impact on forming of voters will. Opinion polls, both country-wide and local revealed that 25-30% of voters who have intention to vote had not decided who to vote for. Significant amount of respondents have no clue of majority candidates and their existence at all. These voters’ decision who to vote for was done in last weeks or even days. Therefore we will concentrate on the most serious and widespread violations of that period.

Our first summary was published 40 days before the election. Our concerns expressed in that analysis about the simultaneous drawing of the representation of election participants in all precinct election commissions had been confirmed.

All facts mentioned are published on our interactive map htttp://maidan.org.ua/vybory2012 and are confirmed by video, photo and official documents. There were 1271 reports published on the map as of 0:00 October 26 (compared to 604 reports up to date of previous analysis on September 16th). We processed 5792 reports total.

1. Violations of electoral commissions functioning

During last 40 days we documented 61 (of 71 total) reports of violations in functioning of election commissions, most are related to the drawing of representation of parties and candidates in precinct election commission (PEC). The Central Election Commission (CEC) did not detail much the procedure of drawing and the district election commissions (DEC) decided how to perform the actual drawing themselves. The drawing was done from garbage cans, big and heavy wooden boxes, banana packs, etc. We have documented complaints about the drawing process from 31 district election commission all over the country. The cases of outright fraud when drawing are documented as well.

A CEC member Vladislav Zabarsky explained single drawing by the long time spent for each round. However each DEC is equipped is equipped with a computer where a simple open source random number generator could be installed. As we wrote before our position is that the law requires a separate drawing for each commission. The violation of this law and dubious drawings casts serious doubt on the legitimacy of the whole process of PEC formation.

The quality of PEC membership also cast doubts on the entire organization of election. All over the country applications for DEC membership contained:

  1. Multiple applications of one person from several parties of candidates.
  2. Applications filled later than a deadline.
  3. Applications not dated
  4. Applications without a signature
  5. Application signatures differ from ones in copies of passports.
  6. Different birthdates in application and passports.
  7. Passport copies without photos.

Random phone calls to people who supposedly applied for PEC membership in Ternopil region revealed large amount of people who had no clue of any application filed; some dead persons were found who “applied to be PEC members” as well.

If the applications were not checked as seriously as in Ternopil after the commissions were formed, numerous complaints were filed about the members not attending the precincts at all, including even heads of commissions.

There are many reports when DEC and PEC members submitted from other parties openly declare their membership in Party of Region and state that they are working in commission of party errand. There are cases of direct agitation for Party of Regions and its candidates in PECs. Even the invitations to vote are distributed along with Party of Regions leaflets.

In the last two weeks there were reports of mass replacement of PEC members from several parties (Ukrainian People’s Party, Our Ukraine, Anarchists, and Ukrainian National Assembly). The replacement of PEC members creates problems in DEC’s functioning since the newly arrived need time to adapt and learn how it works.

There are numerous reports from all over the country about precincts physically closed for voters; mandatory invitations to precincts are not received by voters. PEC members complain about inactive phones e.g. cancelled for non-payment.

2. Forged voters’ lists

Though we have only 7 documented severe violations in voters lists we are getting dozens of reports without photos or videos from all regions about the presence in lists of persons long dead. Our volunteers complain the PEC members forbid them to make photos of the faulted lists referring to the law “On protection of personal data”.

The number of reports about abnormal numbers of voters listed for one physical address grows quickly.  Such cases are documented in Dnipropetrovsk, Zhytomyr, Kyiv and Vyshneve near Kyiv so far. Tens and even hundreds of people are listed to one address, all of them unknown to the owner of those premises. These reports could be considered as evidence of criminal or administrative offense (article 158 of Criminal Code or article 212-7 of Administrative Code).

Voters not finding themselves in the list are complaining to complication of the procedure of reinstating themselves in the register. Many people give up on first step in PEC. Citizens encounter artificially induced problems due to the errors of authorities (State Register).

3. Fake sociology

36 of 38 documented reports occurred during last 40 days. A serious violation of the law is the publication of poll results without the mandatory information provided – about the client who ordered the poll, the company who performed it, method of polling, timeframe, number of people questioned, etc.

Publication of fake sociology seriously violates the legal provisions about the prohibition of fraud during the election.

Most violations are related to “Our Ukraine” party and individual candidates. Disinformation was distributed via TV, newspapers, websites, billboards and leaflets.

The number of these violations was considerably higher. Our monitoring revealed that even the participants of elections mostly have no idea that the publication of fake sociology violates the law and did not notice or register the problem.

4. Obstruction of agitation

80 reports on map (of 105 total) about obstruction of agitation are related to last 40 days.

In all regions the police and the representatives of candidates were interfering with the efforts of activists to agitate against Party of Regions and their candidates who are MPs now. The police detained people who distributed leaflets, trying to confiscate them, and not interfering with violent actions against activists.  We will prepare a separate analysis on these cases. Most idiotic was the case of an 80-year old village woman near Kherson, who was interrogated by the police, who demanded to know where she got the leaflet against the Party of Regions from. The police officially confirmed the fact of interrogation as they obviously see nothing wrong with it.

At the beginning of August a letter from a Lutsk district (rajon) administration to village majors was published where they were instructed that the dissemination of deliberately false and defamatory information about Party of Regions is a violation of election law. Later an official of this administration called the letter “a mistake”.

At the beginning of existence of the election violation monitoring chapter on the Party of Regions website at the beginning of September they published the reports of violations in form of “dissemination of deliberately false information about Party of Regions”, and stated that they submitted complaints to the police about that. Later they stopped using such language.

However, ordinary policemen addressing the activists, when attempting to detain them or to confiscate the leaflets, still insist that the agitation against some party or a candidate is a violation of election law. Even the website of Kyiv Police openly states this. These statements are false since the election law provides the right of a citizen to vote for or against anybody.

The actions and performance of the police appear to be systematic and due to central orders.

There were numerous lawsuits against activists; however none of them were related to defamation. They were sued for not providing mandatory data in leaflets (who printed them, circulation, etc.), for agitating against candidate before he was registered by CEC, for interfering with city improvements.

The website of Party of Regions frequently reported as violation and also passed the reports to law enforcement as “placement of agitation in places that were not officially declared by the local government as such”. This is groundless and illegal as the violation according to the law is the placement of agitation in places expressly forbidden by the law (e.g. in public transportation, state and municipal buildings, etc.) which implies the administrative responsibility according to the article 212-14 of Administrative Code.

Since the very beginning of the campaign the participants of election submit complaints to the police about the mass distribution of defamatory production and fake newspapers. First reports of police seizing such production started to arrive only since the beginning of October.

5. Fraud

Here we list only new forms of fraud not covered in previous report.

 “Vote for me otherwise the ballot would be invalidated”

The billboards and leaflets with such content emerged last week all over the country (for example in Kherson region, Chernigiv region, Luhansk region). Advertising show how and who to vote for; and claim that the vote would not be counted otherwise. Billboards of identical design for different candidates are separated by hundreds of kilometers. This form of fraud is the violation of election law as it interferes with free voter’s will and could have a very serious impact on the final decision of the voter. “Black PR”

Last weeks of election campaign are the real Bacchanalia of black PR or the dissemination of deliberate lies about the candidates and parties all over the country. These activities make sense considering the results of opinion polls mentioned in the beginning.

The worst case of dissemination of black PR so far was the broadcasting via TV channels UT1, Inter and ICTV on October 24-25 of the apparent fakes from the internet named “How much it costs to make a revolution in Ukraine?”, where the leaders of opposition supposedly agreed to make a revolution with American money. These TV programs could be seen by 25 million people in Ukraine. Specialists note the similarity in the setup of these fakes with the infamous “Anatomy of protest” in Russia.

Second mass operation of black PR distribution was the delivery to mailboxes of voters in Eastern and Southern Ukraine of a newspaper “Slavic News” that told people Vitaly Klichko was “orange” (allusion to the Orange Revolution in 2004). The newspaper lists circulation of 700.000, uses expensive paper and print, delivered by the state postal service. We got reports from 10 regions about people getting it to their mailboxes and it is safe to presume the real circulation was even more. The newspaper was not distributed in the West where such information could be considered as favorable for Klichko.

The newspaper with this name exists, however it is printed in black and white irregularly and definitely with very modest circulation. So far it is not known whose money is behind that operation.

The typical examples of black PR are forged leaflets; the usage of party symbols and logos by unrelated candidates; dissemination of libel and outright fakes like “Tatyana Chornovol the She-Devil” leaflets in Lviv region.

It’s worth noticing that almost always these products are of high print quality.

Fake billboards were installed in Brovary, stating “Batkivshchina” does not support any candidate there (which is a lie). The police ignore the complaints.

6. Administrative pressure

No new technologies of administrative pressure emerged since the last analysis.

The Tender News program of TVi channel published an investigation of budget subventions spent on districts, where current MPs from ruling party or affiliated persons like the son of prime minister are running as candidates. The budget subventions are used to buy cars for hospitals and post offices, computers for schools, road improvements, etc. The candidates use these state programs in their agitation and outline their role in getting the budget subvetions for these constituencies.

We have 409 documented reports of administrative pressure (aka “administrative resource”) however we do not know of a single criminal or administrative case opened based on such reports let alone court decisions.

During the last week before the election there were reports of illegal coercion or intimidation of students in order to make them vote for “correct party” or “correct candidate” were submitted Students were threatened to be thrown out of the dormitories and other problems in the future were hinted at.

There is increased flow of reports of budget financed workers and employees being pressured to attend meeting of Party of Regions and affiliate candidates.

7. Countroversal court rulings

Preliminary analysis of court cases on election violations reveals the existence of contradictory rulings on identical cases in different regions. The most prominent example is the indirect bribery of voters in form of expensive gifts to school kids. The court in the Odesa region ruled it as a violation in the case of candidate D.Zhvania; in Donetsk, the court left identical litigation without a ruling in the case of the son

Controversial court rulings are passed in cases related to agitation materials without the mandatory data about the producer, circulation, etc. (violations of articles 69-7 and 74-22 of election law) and the dissemination of false information. There are court rulings that directly limit the Constitutional right to free expression and information; There are rulings of courts in Mykolayiv region that fined citizens a 510 hryvnas ($63) penalty for their public appeals not to vote for Party of Regions and its candidates.

There is an absurd court ruling in Kirovograd, that decided the candidate had illegally financed his leaflets where he is pictured together with his UDAR party leader V.Klichko. The court ruled that this agitation was not paid from party election fund and thus this is a case of illegal financing since the candidate paid from his own fund. In fact the candidate was acting according to the law.

We recorded four cases of courts banning the meetings of candidates with voters. In Kharkiv the text of the court ruling has the exact phrase “the action against the government bodies is not permitted”.

8. Increase in number of reports of violence and intimidation

During the last few weeks the number of violent attempts to physically obstruct the agitation or counter agitation had grown significantly.  The reports mostly deal with destruction of agitation tents and agitation materials. Several agitators were beaten in the process.

There are cases of attacks on journalists who are trying to cover the election campaign and document the violations. Cars and equipment was damaged during these incidents.

There are documents about the physical assaults of candidates and their representatives with injures including severe ones.

These incidents could be considered criminal assault according to the articles 157 of Criminal Code – “obstruction of right to elect combined with violence, damage or destruction of property”.

We have not been informed of any such cases being fully investigated by the police or any offender arrested.

 

Viktor Garbar, Natalka, Zubar, Olexander Severyn (doctor of law)
Maidan Monitoring Project

We recognize and appreciate kind help of all project’s participants and hundreds of volunteers who made it possible to collect and process such a huge amount of information. We are truly thankful to all of you! Special thanks to Volodymyr Khanas for his analysis of formation of PEC.

“Vote for me otherwise the ballot would be invalidated”

This is our second summary of project findings. The next analysis would cover the whole election campaign to the very end.


The “Maidan-Monitoring: Election 2012” is the logical continuation of our project “Monitoring of observance of constitutional rights and freedoms in Ukraine” which collected, verified and published more than 180 cases of violation of fundamental rights and freedoms such as freedom of expression, freedom of information, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom to peaceful assembly. The projects are implemented by the Maidan web site http://maidan.org.ua  team – the cradle of civic journalism in Ukraine.

Both projects are supported by the International Renaissance Foundation http://irf.ua/

 

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