Videos show evidence of voting violations in Ukraine
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Several organisations have decried the legislative elections held Sunday in Ukraine as tainted by fraud. Our Observer, thanks to video evidence, confirms this, and explains the different types of violations that took place.
Several organisations have decried Ukraine's legislative elections held Sunday as tainted by fraud. Our Observer, thanks to video evidence, confirms this, and explains the different types of violations that took place.
According to preliminary results, the Party of the Regions – the incumbent party led by President Viktor Yanukovitch – came first in the legislative elections in Ukraine, and should win the 226 seats required to secure a parliamentary majority. The major opposition bloc, formed around Batkivchtchina (“Fatherland”), the party of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, came second.
The elections were closely followed by the international community, which has been concerned about a lack of transparency in the country’s political system, especially since Tymoshenko’s imprisonment in August 2011. These worries are justified, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which strongly criticised the vote, pointing notably to “the abuse of power and the excessive role of money in this election.”
In a report published ahead of the vote, the nonprofit Maidan Alliance, which specialises in monitoring electoral breaches, noted more than 1,000 violations during the electoral campaign. It pointed in particular to the distribution of gifts and to pressure on state employees. Suspicions of fraud were mainly levelled at the party in power, but opposition parties have also been blamed.
“Cameras above voting booths, booths without curtains – these types of violations could tarnish the vote”
Natalka Zubar is in charge of Maidan Alliance’s vote monitoring website, which has listed several instances of violations during Sunday’s elections.
We have put several videos on our YouTube channel which prove that the electoral process was not followed in several places. We monitored footage from video cameras installed by the authorities in the polling centres. These video feeds could be viewed live on the Internet. As soon as anything abnormal happened, we either noticed it ourselves and recorded the video, or we were notified by citizens. Other videos were taken by amateurs at the polling stations and posted onto Facebook or YouTube.
For example, in this video below, taken at a polling station set up in a university residence, a young man in grey is in a room where filled ballot boxes are placed. The area is off-limits to anyone who isn’t from the electoral commission. Now, it’s clear he is not a part of the commission since he says he is a volunteer. We are not sure which party he is affiliated with.
This video below is a recording from one of the cameras set up by the authorities. We see electoral personnel counting the votes and filling out the result forms. But this video was filmed 40 minutes before the official close of the polling stations [On a photo posted on Twitter by the organisation, the polling station committee in the town of Kharkiv posted an entrance on the front door saying that the vote ends at noon].
The following video is, for me, the most damning. We see a man standing just behind the ballot boxes, seemingly telling voters what they should do. We don’t know exactly what he was trying to do, but it’s clearly a way to interfere with the vote. No one has the right to stand near the ballot boxes like this, and even less so give directions to voters and look at their ballots, which he seems to be doing. We only know that he is a representative from one of the parties, and nothing more.
“The major breaches happened prior to the vote”
The video cameras that were supposed to monitor the vote caused a lot of problems, too. In these images, we see one of the cameras filming the floor instead of showing what’s happening in the station. There were a lot of cases like this.
Furthermore, we had demanded that it should be clearly stated underneath the cameras that they served no other purpose than to ensure voting was being carried out properly. We were afraid the cameras might intimidate some people and influence their vote. Now, not only was this message very rarely displayed, but there were even cameras installed right above the voting booths!
This next image shows there were simply no curtains on some of the voting booths. A complaint has been filed against the committee in charge of this station.
We were notified of a lot of other cases, notably of alleged falsifications during the vote count. We haven’t had time yet to watch all the videos. But what we can say right now is that there were evidently violations to the electoral code that could have affected the outcome of the vote.
As far as we know, the biggest irregularities happened prior to voting day: pressure on public servants, attempts to buy votes, violence, etc. (Read the orgnanisation's full report here.)
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Ségolène Malterre.