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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora