News / Europe

Ukraine Tests Young Democracy in Parliamentary Election

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich (R) greets veterans during a ceremony to mark the day of Ukraine's liberation from Nazi invaders during World War II on the day of the parliamentary elections in Kiev, October 28, 2012.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich (R) greets veterans during a ceremony to mark the day of Ukraine's liberation from Nazi invaders during World War II on the day of the parliamentary elections in Kiev, October 28, 2012.
James Brooke
Ukrainians are voting in parliamentary elections seen as a test of the democratic credentials of a nation that seesaws between European democracy and Russian authoritarianism.

With temperatures unseasonably warm, Ukrainians are voting to renew all 450 seats in parliament.

The election comes halfway through the five-year presidency of Viktor Yanukovych.  Many Ukrainians say the vote will frame the future of democracy in Ukraine, the second-largest country after Russia to emerge from the Soviet Union.  They say a strong showing for opposition candidates on Sunday will limit the ability of President Yanukovych to take new authoritarian steps.

International concern is so great that 3,500 foreign observers have come to watch the voting process across this nation of 46-million people.

In Troeschina, a Soviet-era working class suburb on the eastern side of Kyiv, 27-year-old IT-engineer Kiril said he voted for Svoboda, a new nationalist opposition party.

"I choose that party which is the biggest opposition to our government," he said after voting.
Critics say President Yanukovych and his allies have closed major TV channels to opposition leaders and have selectively prosecuted their political opponents.  Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and two of her Cabinet ministers are in jail.

Lyuba, who came to vote with her baby granddaughter, said she voted for the opposition coalition headed by allies of Ms. Tymoshenko.  But Vitaly, a retiree, said he voted for the ruling Party of Regions.

“In the last two years, we have had more stability, more jobs, and better pay - that is what is important in life,” he said.

Mr. Yanukovych’s approval rating has fallen in opinion polls to around 13 percent.  But political analysts believe Sunday’s voting will enable him to form a parliamentary majority.  In addition to maintaining a parliamentary alliance with the Communist Party of Ukraine, Mr. Yanukovych expects to win over many deputies who are elected as independents.

At the Troeschina polling station, the district’s federal deputy Valeri Borisov, a Party of Regions member, dismissed opposition charges that government resources were used to help the ruling party.  He says government resources are only used to guarantee the fairness of elections, including web cameras and clear plastic boxes.

But many Ukrainians are skeptical.  In a nationwide poll conducted earlier this month, 47 percent of respondents said voting irregularities could be so great Sunday as to affect the overall election outcome.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs