The European Union says upcoming parliamentary elections in Ukraine will be a "litmus test" of the country's democratic credentials, and has called on Ukrainian officials to ensure that all parties and candidates are treated equally.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele made the statement Friday. They welcomed Ukraine's stated commitment to comply with an election observation mission and affirm that elections are held according to international standards.
But the EU officials also expressed concern about what they said was a "lack of political pluralism" on Ukrainian television and called on Kyiv to make sure viewers have access to balanced coverage.
In addition, the EU officials said they regret that the consequences of trials they said "did not respect international standards" are preventing opposition representatives from participating in the elections.
A poll of about 2,000 people, released Friday by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, indicates only 9 percent of Ukrainian voters believe the parliamentary elections will be fair. In the same poll, some 47 percent of respondents said they believed the polls might be, or definitely will be, "rigged."