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

    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

    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.
    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