It's almost 2 months of election campaign in district #205, and only 17 candidates are actively campaigning, including Hennadii Korban (UKROP party) and Serhii Berezenko (Petro Poroshenko Block party), whose campaigning efforts come along with numerous incidents having features of voter bribery, misuse of administrative resource, and violation of campaigning rules. Overall, the voters will have to choose from a record-breaking number of candidates – 91. OPORA condemns provocative and use-of-force incidents during the election process and calls on law enforcement bodies to investigate violations and prevent wrongdoings during the voting process and vote count.
However, despite the number of candidates is high, only 17 of them participate in the election campaign to the certain extent, communicate with the voters, organize public events and build their campaign networks. Olha Aivazovska, Electoral and Parliamentary Programs Coordinator at the Civil Network OPORA, stated: “Such numerical superiority of candidates who don't participate in the election campaign over active candidates means that the problem of so-called 'technical' candidates still exists”.
Serhii Berezenko (Solidarity Petro Poroshenko Block) and Hennadii Korban (Ukrainian Union of Patriots – UKROP political party) remain two the most active majoritarian candidates. OPORA's analyst Oleksandr Neberykut stated: “Unfortunately, both candidates use unfair campaigning methods including voter bribery concealed by pre-electoral charity and even less disguised methods of influence.”
Ukrop Charitable Fund has placed a number of tents in Chernihiv, disseminating product sets and providing catering for low-income people. Election headquarters of candidate Serhii Berezenko use so-called "social agreements" to mobilize voters. The fact that activities of the Regional Development Council under the President of Ukraine are used to campaign for the candidate Serhii Berezenko makes the people think that the highest official is involved in local election process and erodes public trust to activities of state authorities and law-enforcement bodies.
We would like to pay special attention to the fact that DEC #205 has many members who held the corresponding offices in problematic districts in Kyiv, Cherkasy oblast and other regions, in 2012 regular elections to the Parliament of Ukraine, repeated election in single-member districts #94, 132, 194, 197 and 223 in 2013, and some other quite resonant election campaigns.
This election campaign was full of acute confrontations between leading parliamentary and non-parliamentary parties, and the level of conflicts sometimes exceeded an admissible level in terms of electoral standards. Some MPs of Ukraine were personally involved in use-of-force incident when MPs Andrii Lozovyi and Ihor Mosiichuk had beaten a self-nominated candidate Oleksii Durniev.
Besides that, some state and local officials don't adhere to the principle of neutrality and use their powers for hidden campaigning or negative campaigning for the benefit of the certain candidates.
Such use-of force incidents discredit the election process not only before the voters, but also before the whole international community, which has specifically emphasized the need to investigate electoral violence and threats during the previous elections. OPORA welcomes decision of the Minister of Internal Affair of Ukraine Arsen Avakov to deploy an operational-investigative group and additional units of the security forces in order to secure legitimacy of the election process, announced on 7/19/2015. At the same time, we are concerned about mere efforts of law-enforcement bodies in regard to prevention of election law violations before this decision of the Minister of Internal Affair of Ukraine was published. Such unbiased investigation shall be based on the certainty of punishment principle in relation to crimes against electoral rights of citizens.
Press-service of the Civil Network OPORA