News / Europe

Ukrainian Ruling Party Faces Election Backlash

OSCE election observation mission special coordinator Walburga Habsburg Douglas, center, speaks to the media during a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.OSCE election observation mission special coordinator Walburga Habsburg Douglas, center, speaks to the media during a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.
x
OSCE election observation mission special coordinator Walburga Habsburg Douglas, center, speaks to the media during a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.
OSCE election observation mission special coordinator Walburga Habsburg Douglas, center, speaks to the media during a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.
VOA News

Ukraine's ruling party is facing criticism at home and abroad, even as it appears on course to maintain its majority after Sunday's parliamentary elections.


Jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko announced Monday she is launching a hunger strike to protest the vote.  With about 70 percent of the votes counted, her pro-Western Fatherland Party trails President Viktor Yanukovych's ruling Party of Regions, 34 to 23 percent.

Tymoshenko's lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, read her statement to the press. 

"If I were with you now and had an opportunity to act freely, I would without doubt call on you to stage an indefinite civil disobedience action, and we together would show these forgers their place, as we've done many times in the past. But now, being behind bars, I cannot call on you to come out to the square because I cannot guarantee that such gatherings will be peaceful and well-organized, so I do all I can do under such circumstances: I declare a hunger strike to protest against fake elections and an illegitimate parliament," he read. 

Election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe chastised authorities in Ukraine for their handling of the elections. OSCE mission coordinator Walburga Habsburg Douglas said Sunday's vote constituted "a step backwards," in some ways.

"Considering the abuse of power and an excessive role of money in this election, democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine," she said. 

Douglas put much of the blame on the ruling party, which she said used state funds to finance its campaign activities while also controlling the flow of information.

"I do not think that voters should face harassment or intimidation from employers or the government. And one should not have to go to a prison to hear from leading political figures in this country," she said. 

The United States characterized Ukraine's elections in similar terms. A the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said that while Ukraine's elections were peaceful overall, the U.S. is concerned about reports of fraud and falsification of votes. Toner added that the United States shares OSCE's concerns about the government favoring ruling-party candidates and harassing opposition candidates.

In Kyiv, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov dismissed the criticism. "We already know statements from the whole range of election observation missions. Every single one of them is positive. And we hope that as a whole, all those international observers will finish their work with such a positive conclusion," he said. 

Initial results indicate the Communist Party of Ukraine, Yanukovych's parliamentary ally, finished in third place with about 15 percent of the votes.

Earlier Monday, Vice Prime Minister Sergei Tigipko said he was pleased with the outcome. 

"We are satisfied with the results the Party of Regions has received. It's the best result for a ruling party in over 20 years. I think an even more convincing victory will come after all the votes are counted, and the total will give us the chance to become the majority party and continue the reforms we have started," he said. 

Victory for the ruling party will likely cement Yanukovych's leadership status. He is midway through a five-year presidency, marked by an accumulation of presidential powers and antagonism with the West.

Still, the initial results show some newer opposition parties making some gains, including the pro-Western UDAR, or Punch, party, led by world heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko. Punch drew about 13 percent of the vote, but even Klitschko is uncertain how much impact his party will have.

"According to the results, opposition forces have gained more then 50 percent. Some suggest 55-57 percent. I'm sure that if not for the new election laws, we could form the majority, impeach today's government and form a coalition government. Also, in the shortest possible time we could decriminalize the law for which the leader of the Fatherland, Yulia Tymoshenko, and Yuri Lutsenko are jailed. But today, new laws on individual races possess a real threat because manipulation is possible, and it is taking place," he said. 

The nationalist Svoboda - Freedom - Party appeared to have won nearly 9 percent of the vote.

The elections for the 450-seat unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, were a huge test for Ukraine's fragile democracy, already overshadowed by the imprisonment of Tymoshenko, who has spent more than a year in prison for abuse of power while in office. She is serving a seven-year sentence.

Voters cast ballots to select party lists to fill half of the parliament seats; the other 225 seats were filled by individual races in geographic constituencies. 

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Breffni from: Bellevue, WA
October 30, 2012 2:06 AM
Have you ever seen such a weak statement: Could not even come up with their own,?? Obamawow
The United States characterized Ukraine's elections in similar terms. A the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said that while Ukraine's elections were peaceful overall, the U.S. is concerned about reports of fraud and falsification of votes. Toner added that the United States shares OSCE's concerns about the government favoring ruling-party candidates and harassing opposition candidates. Good one Mark Toner??

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs