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1 November, 2012

International Observers: the Constituency Commission lacked transparency and seemed to have intentionally delayed the process of tabulation

Report on the monitoring of elections in district no. 95 (Irpin, Kyiv oblast) on 29.10.2012 by Alexander Beribes and Maren Hofius of the International Civil Society Election Observation Mission (CSEOM)

BACKGROUND:

Our team, Alexander Beribes and Maren Hofius of the International Civil Society Election Observation Mission (CSEOM), spent the election day (28.10.2012) together with representatives of the local initiative "For fair elections in district 95," established by various local NGOs for the purpose of election observation. Ihor Nayda, newspaper editor and head the NGO "Democratic Kyiv region", accompanied us the entire day. We visited polling stations 321302, 321300, 321291, 321289, 321312, and 321293, as well as polling station 321301, where we observed the subsequent counting of the votes. At the latter, we sat together with a team of ENEMO election observers (including Roman Udot of GOLOS from Russia) and accompanied a largely fair and transparent counting process. We left the polling station at 3:20 a.m.

When we arrived at the Constituency Commission at 3:30 in the morning, we were notrestricted from entering the building. At that time, teams from just four polling stationcommissions had brought their protocols and counted votes. The team from the pollingstation commission whose count we had observed from 20:00 to 3:20 had not yet arrived atthe Constituency Commission. Even as we left the Constituency Commission at 4:30, the teamfrom polling station 321301 had still not arrived with its protocols and ballots.

The next day, October 29, we received a call from Ihor Nayda telling us that there had been massive violations of the election law in the Constituency Commission. The atmosphere in the Constituency Commission was chaotic. The Constituency Commission lacked transparency and seemed to have intentionally delayed the process of tabulation (as background information: logs from many polling stations showed the Batkivshchyna Party candidate as the potential winner). There were no international election observers in the building who could have documented the situation. Following the press conference held by ENEMO at the UNIAN (Ukrainian Independent Information Agency), Alexander Beribes and Roman Udot returned to the Constituency Commission at Irpin in order to observe the events there. They arrived around 17:00. Although a large hall on the ground floor was available, the Constituency Commission chose to perform their tabulation in a much smaller space on the second floor. The BERKUT officers (a special unit of the Ukrainian police that is directly subordinated to the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior) present there controlled access to the room in which the Constituency Commission tabulated the votes. Both observers were admitted to the room. About 20 athletic-looking young men stood around the table at which the Commission was convened so that no one was able to see the tabulation. International election observers and journalists were not admitted. It was observed that the present representatives of the conventional police were powerless, since the young men embodied a kind of executive authority (no information was offered as to who these men were). Around 21:00, journalists from the TVi television channel arrived and began to broadcast live. Under pressure from the media, the international election observers were allowed to approach the Constituency Commission table. There, the observers had the impression that the work of the Commission was proceeding very slowly. When questioned, the representative of the Commission informed the observers that this was due to the many "complaints" by the electorate. This was surprising, considering that the polling stations we visited had reported very few complaints to us.

After the TVi camera crew finished its report, the observers were again denied access. The deputy chairman of the Commission insisted that the election observers and journalists should have no access to the table. The work could only be photographed and filmed from a distance. At about 23:00, the young men who had thus far been closely huddled around the table were replaced by about five BERKUT officers, after which they left the building. This change initially returned a degree of order and a minimal increase in transparency to the process, as the BERKUT officers granted individual election observers and journalists access to the Commission. After another half hour, however, the BERKUT blocked access completely, barring new visitors from entering the room.

Further details are not available, as Alexander Beribes and Roman Udot left the locality at 23:30.

On October 31, Alexander Beribes reported the following: "Today, I was at the Central Election Commission in Kyiv. After a self-confident UDAR representative asked a critical question regarding vote rigging in election district 79, the meeting was disrupted. It should be continued tomorrow (November 1 - Ed.), at 11:00."


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