According to official data received from the National Police of Ukraine, as of July 18, 2019, 273 criminal proceedings were initiated, of which 111 are related to cases of vote buying or indirect bribery of voters (41% of the total number). Law enforcing bodies launched 88 criminal investigations into cases of alleged interference with citizens’ voting rights by means of deceit (illegal use of party brands, registration of clone candidates). Other criminal proceedings relate to cases of obstruction of lawful activities of electoral subjects, destruction or theft of campaign materials, etc. 249 criminal cases are still under investigation as of this writing.

In the May-July 2019 timeframe, OPORA’s observers recorded 2 147 cases of law infringement, of which 83% are related to violation of pre-election campaigning rules and, for the most part, do not constitute a criminal offence. However, 202 incidents involved bribery of voters, 93 incidents - violation of legislation by members of election commissions, 44 incidents - abuse of administrative resources, 17 incidents - criminal interference in electoral process (interference with the activities of candidates and political parties), 7 incidents - violation of the rights of journalists and observers. Based on the results of recorded incidents, OPORA lodged 882 statements of offence with the National Police of Ukraine. Among other things, OPORA calls on the law enforcement agencies to ensure proper investigation into cases of violation of the rights of official observers. Incident involving physical assault on OPORA’s observer in Chernivtsi oblast is especially worrisome.

OPORA noted that violation of campaigning rules and indirect bribery of voters are the key challenges facing democratic parliamentary elections in Ukraine. Large-scale cases of non-compliance with the procedure for pre-election campaigning emphasize the need to increase transparency and accountability of expenses of electoral subjects. Furthermore, widespread manifestations of indirect bribery of voters suggest that there is no significant progress in counteracting the provision of material incentives to voters. In single-member electoral districts, candidates often provided free-of-charge goods and services to voters, such as food gift baskets, eye-glasses, building materials, private housing and road repair services to voters, conducting lotteries and installing children’s playgrounds.

Although there were no large-scale cases of abuse of administrative resources for electoral purposes at the central (national) level, they still can have a significant effect on election results in certain electoral districts. This problem is exacerbated by active participation of city mayors and local deputies in parliamentary elections in the status of candidates for people’s deputies of Ukraine. Abuse of budgetary administrative resources for electoral purposes is also a serious problem. The incumbent people’s deputies of Ukraine and local officials have access to state-financed programs which they use for de facto campaigning purposes. Unfortunately, the Government of Ukraine has not begun implementing OPORA’s recommendations on depoliticization of the process of allocation and utilization of state-financed subventions intended for socio-economic development of territories. Inaction of state authorities encourages candidates to abuse budgetary funds in their own favor.

OPORA’s statistics of recorded incidents and official data of the National Police of Ukraine highlight the problems involving acts of hooliganism against voters, deliberate damage of campaign materials and property of party offices. Although these illegal actions do not have a critical influence on the course of election campaign, they constitute a violation of candidates’ and voters’ right to free pre-election campaigning.

According to OPORA, 93 candidates running in single-member electoral districts have indicated their membership in organizations that duplicate the names of political parties - electoral subjects. At the same time, the aforementioned candidates weren’t nominated by these political parties. For the most part, this unfair practice is directed against candidates representing “Servant of the People” party and, to a lesser extent, against representatives of “Holos” party. Furthermore, candidates with identical first names, surnames and even patronymic names were nominated in 24 electoral districts. OPORA emphasizes that the current legislation does not leave much room for counteracting this type of electoral fraud. However, these fraudulent practices confuse voters and violate the principle of free expression of the will of citizens. This problem also drew response from the National Police of Ukraine. As of this writing, police officers are investigating 88 criminal cases involving illegal use of brand names of political parties, the use of clone candidate technology and dissemination of false information about candidates’ affiliation with political parties and other legal entities.

Campaigning activity of the majority of political parties that nominated their candidates in the nationwide constituency is manifested in the use of various forms of agitation throughout Ukraine or within the boundaries of certain regions. According to OPORA, the most large-scale campaigns in terms of territorial coverage in the end of June - first half of July 2019 timeframe were conducted by three political parties – “European Solidarity” (multiple cases of pre-election campaigning were recorded in 161 electoral districts), “Servant of the People” (campaigning in 157 electoral districts) and “Groysman’s Ukrainian Strategy” (in 142 electoral districts). At the same time, three other political parties – “Independence”, “Party of Greens of Ukraine” and “Syla Prava” (Force of Law) – display next to none campaigning activity. Outdoor political advertising (in the case of campaigns conducted by political parties), direct work with voters and distribution of printed campaign materials (in the case of campaigns conducted by candidates in single-member electoral districts) are the most commonly used types of campaigning activity.

The problem of legal uncertainty and insufficient transparency of expenses on political advertising in online media in the context of pre-election campaigning by electoral subjects is on full display in these parliamentary elections. During the period of election campaign, political parties and candidates invested more than 1,800,000 US dollars (48 million UAH) in political advertising on Facebook. Public pages promoting political parties and leaders of party lists spent more than $ 1 million on political advertisements. About 500 thousand dollars were spent in the course of promotion of public pages campaigning for candidates in single-member electoral districts. As of today, there are no effective mechanisms for controlling the flow of funds spent on online advertising by candidates and political parties, and no mechanisms for monitoring their compliance with procedural requirements for financing the election campaigns when it comes to placement of political advertising on social media. The mechanisms for monitoring and reporting on online advertising finance should be clearly regulated by law in the context of general trend towards using new forms and methods of campaigning.

OPORA welcomes the decision of the CEC to liberalize the procedure for temporary change of voting place without changing the voting address as applied to citizens mobile within the country. From this election campaign onwards, citizens are no longer obliged to support their applications for a change of voting place during national elections with documentary evidence. Observers also noted that the process of changing the voting place was unproblematic and well organized by the bodies responsible for maintenance of State Register of Voters. According to final data from the State Register of Voters, 280,922 citizens took advantage of the procedure for temporary change of voting place without changing the voting address, which is 44,682 less than the number of citizens who made use of this procedure in the second round of presidential election in Ukraine and 34,803 less than the number of those who applied for change of voting place in the first round of presidential election.

Formation of PECs that enable citizens to vote was the key stage of electoral process in July 2019. Despite certain organizational problems and politically motivated conflicts between members of DECs, precinct election commissions were successfully formed and commenced work in all electoral districts. According to current law, only three entities have the right to nominate their representatives for the positions of PEC members: parliamentary parties (hold mandatory quotas), political parties that nominated their lists of candidates in the elections, and majoritarian candidates. AUU “Batkivshchyna” has the largest representation in PECs (this party is represented in 91% of all PECs) as compared to the other 5 political parties with parliamentary factions in the current convocation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

As for political parties that nominated their lists of MP candidates, the largest representation in PECs was achieved by “Servant of the People” (represented in 82% of all PECs), “Opposition Platform - For Life” (72%), AUU “Batkivshchyna” (64%), “European Solidarity” (46%), AUU “Svoboda” (45%). When it comes to majoritarian MP candidates nominated by political parties, the largest representation in PECs was also achieved by nominees of “Servant of the People” (represented in 72% of all PECs), “Opposition Platform - For life” (45%), AUU “Batkivshchyna” (37%) AUU “Svoboda” (20%), and “European Solidarity” (18%).

Campaigning activity of candidates and political parties

The month of July was marked by significantly higher level of competition and campaigning activity of all electoral subjects in single-member constituencies as compared to the first month of election process. This is due to official completion of registration of MP candidates and final determination of full list of participants of the election campaign. The increasing intensity of election campaign was further propelled by the decision of Constitutional Court of Ukraine on the constitutionality of presidential decree on dissolution of Parliament since many potential electoral subjects restrained their campaigning activities in June 2019 in wait for Constitutional Court ruling.

13 out of 22 political parties that officially nominated their candidates in nationwide constituency and were registered as electoral subjects are conducting noticeable election campaigns. The remaining parties display limited and selective campaigning activity. Meanwhile, three political parties – “Independence”, “Party of Greens of Ukraine” and “Force of Law” – in fact, do not conduct any campaigning activities on a systematic basis.

In terms of geographical coverage and utilized formats of campaigning activity, the following five political parties launched the most extensive election campaigns covering all regions of Ukraine (24 oblasts and the city of Kyiv): “European Solidarity”, “Servant of the People”, “Groysman’s Ukrainian Strategy”, AUU “Batkivshchyna” and “Radical Party of Oleh Liashko”. The same can be said of “Holos” party with the caveat that its election campaign is barely noticeable in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts unlike the campaigns of aforementioned parties that are proactive throughout Ukraine.

Three other parties (“Opposition Platform - For Life”, “Svoboda”, “Opposition Bloc”) also conduct strong election campaigns, but their campaigning activities are focused on certain regions. In particular, “Opposition Platform - For Life” (as well as “Opposition Bloc”) doesn’t conduct noticeable campaigning activities in Lviv, Rivne, Ivano-Frankivsk, Volyn and Ternopil oblasts. Meanwhile, AUU “Svoboda” doesn’t show any signs of campaigning activity in Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, Luhansk and Odesa oblasts. However, these political forces took a proactive approach to pre-election campaigning in other regions. The remaining active political parties - electoral subjects (“Samopomich”, “Civic Position”, “Syla i Chest” (Strength and Honor), Agrarian Party of Ukraine, “Mykhailo Saakashvili’s Movement of New Forces” and “Syla Lyudey” (Force of the People) didn’t launch comprehensive campaigns on a nationwide scale, but decided to put an emphasis on specific regions.

In addition to breakdown by region, OPORA’s observers also analyzed the election campaigns in terms of level of coverage and intensity within the boundaries of each of 199 single-member constituencies. According to OPORA’s estimates, in the end of June - first half of July 2019 timeframe the most extensive election campaigns in terms of territorial coverage were conducted by “European Solidarity” (multiple cases of pre-election campaigning recorded in 161 electoral districts), “Servant of the People" (campaigning in 157 electoral districts) and “Groysman’s Ukrainian Strategy” (campaigning in 142 electoral districts).

At the local level, all proactive political parties, for the most part, conduct their pre-election campaigning activities through the efforts of MP candidates in single-member constituencies. Majoritarian candidates run simultaneous campaigns to promote themselves and their parties, and they often use their own resources to finance campaigning events. Therefore, the outreach of election campaign of political party within the boundaries of each specific region usually depends on the level of activity of MP candidate nominated by this party in the corresponding electoral district. In the context of campaign finance, electoral subjects point to the problem of absence of direct-effect provision on the right of political party that nominated an MP candidate in single-member constituency to transfer money to the election fund of this candidate.

Despite the existence of fierce competition between political parties, majoritarian candidates are the ones who set the tone for election campaigns in single-member constituencies where campaigning activity is much more varied and dynamic, and it’s often accompanied by conflicts between MP candidates. According to OPORA’s observers, no less than 51 single-member constituencies can be regarded as potentially problematic, given the nature of political confrontation, small gap between the leaders of election race, the status and resources owned by candidates. Incumbent MPs-candidates running in single-member constituencies who were elected in the same single-member constituencies during 2014 special parliamentary elections (there are 192 of them) stand out from the rest of MP candidates for high-intensity campaigning activity. Overall, according to OPORA’s observers, less than half of 3000+ registered candidates conduct noticeable election campaigns.

Campaigning activity of candidates (isolated cases were disregarded)

Political parties

Number of oblasts (including Kyiv city), covered by campaigning activities

Number of electoral districts where cases of campaigning activity were recorded

EUROPEAN SOLIDARITY

25

161

SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE

25

157

GROYSMAN’S UKRAINIAN STRATEGY

25

142

OPPOSITION PLATFORM – FOR LIFE

18

101

BATKIVSHCHYNA

25

99

RADICAL PARTY OF OLEH LIASHKO

25

99

HOLOS

23

91

OPPOSITION BLOC

15

88

SVOBODA

19

69

SAMOPOMICH

14

42

CIVIC POSITION

13

28

AGRARIAN PARTY OF UKRAINE

9

21

SYLA I CHEST (STRENGTH AND HONOR)

10

16

MYKHAILO SAAKASHVILI’S MOVEMENT OF NEW FORCES

6

16

PARTY OF SHARIY

4

10

SYLA LYUDEY

5

8

PATRIOT

3

3

SOCIAL JUSTICE

2

2

AUU “FAKEL”

1

1

INDEPENDENCE

0

0

PARTY OF GREENS OF UKRAINE

0

0

SYLA PRAVA

0

0

Political parties and candidates are using all available forms of campaigning at the final stage of election campaign. The most popular formats of pre-election campaigning are outdoor advertising, direct work with voters and distribution of printed campaign materials (distribution of newspapers, leaflets and posters, as well as distribution of printed products through party’s campaign tents). Political advertising on social networking websites and the use of online media are the dominating forms of media campaigning. Unlike previous election campaigns, the bulk of majoritarian candidates running in these elections are present in social networks and actively operate their public pages on Facebook. The active use of social media by MP candidates, among other things, resulted in increasing volumes of dirty campaigning content and fake news related to election process. This testifies to the need for a more thorough study of peculiarities and consequences of the use of Internet resources for campaigning purposes and legislative regulation of election campaigns conducted with the use of modern media technologies. 

At the regional level, only a few candidates made use of television and radio for campaigning purposes, which is due to the high cost of political advertising and campaigning in audiovisual media.

The number of mass events organized by MP candidates or other individuals and organizations in support and with the direct participation of candidates has increased significantly. In comparison with 2014 parliamentary elections, the conduct of entertainment events, including concerts featuring local music bands and popular Ukrainian artists, has become a popular trend once again.

The format of direct meetings with voters in public places or at the place of their residence is being used by majoritarian candidates on a mass scale. The positive democratic effect of direct meetings with voters is often canceled out by repeated cases of so-called pre-election charity which were recorded by OPORA’s observers on numerous occasions. Self-nominees are the ones who most often resort to such abusive practices. However, over the last month observers recorded numerous cases where candidates nominated by political parties (in particular, “Opposition Platform - For Life”, AUU “Batkivshchyna”) conducted campaigning events that were accompanied by provision of goods and services to voters.

The month of July was marked by the growing number of examples of using the results of sociological surveys conducted within the boundaries of single-member constituencies for campaigning purposes. The results of such surveys significantly differed from one another. For the most part, such examples may be considered as cases of using manipulative technique that constitutes a violation of the Law on publication of the results of opinion polls related to elections.

Violation of Electoral Legislation  

Statistical data of law enforcement agencies concerning investigations into electoral crimes

Since the beginning of election campaign and as of July 18, 2019, the National Police of Ukraine has initiated 273 criminal investigations related to election process. Of these, 202 are investigations into crimes against electoral rights of citizens (covered by Articles 157-160 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), 71 are investigations of other unlawful acts committed during the election process.

The majority of investigations into electoral crimes were initiated in connection with alleged bribery of voters covered by Article 160 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine - 111 criminal cases. Of these, 62 are cases of vote buying, 49 are cases of indirect bribery of voters (campaigning by means of provision of goods and services, etc.).

According to official information, over the course of election process the National Police initiated 88 criminal investigations into cases of alleged interference with citizens’ voting rights (covered by Article 157 of the Criminal Code). According to OPORA’s preliminary data, 40 criminal proceedings were initiated in connection with dissemination of false information about parties and candidates. In particular, we are talking about cases of dissemination of false information about candidates’ affiliation with certain political parties or legal entities and other false stories about electoral subjects. Law enforcement agencies are also investigating 34 cases of illegal use of party brands and 14 cases of registration of “clone” candidates (whose personal data is similar to personal details of active participants of election race) covered by Article 157 of the Criminal Code.

Range of electoral crimes investigated by the National Police of Ukraine

Criminal investigations broken down by type of electoral violation

Number of initiated investigations

Article of Criminal Code of Ukraine

Illegal use of party brands

34

No.157

Clone candidates

14

No.157

Deliberately false information about parties and candidates

40

No.157

Vote buying

62

No.160

Indirect bribery

49

No.160

Hooliganism / causing damage to campaign materials

39

 

Theft of campaign materials

11

 

Other electoral crimes

21

 

 

National Police of Ukraine also conducts investigations into cases of causing damage to campaign materials (39), cases of theft of campaign materials (11), and other electoral crimes (21).

Summarized statistical data on initiated, ongoing and ceased criminal investigations

Current status of investigation

Statistics of investigations

Initiated

273

Ceased

18

Consolidated

Ongoing

249

 

As of this writing, investigating officers ceased 18 criminal proceedings and consolidated 6 criminal cases. There are 249 ongoing criminal investigations. OPORA was informed by the National Police of Ukraine that in 5 criminal cases suspects were served with charges.

OPORA’s data on intensity of electoral violations (May - July 2019)

Since the beginning of the process of special parliamentary elections OPORA’s observers have been monitoring electoral violations in each constituency. According to the results of monitoring, observers recorded 1,945 cases of non-compliance with the Law of Ukraine “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine” and democratic electoral standards.

Non-compliance with the rules of pre-election campaigning was the most common type of violation committed by electoral subjects (1,783 documented cases). This includes distribution of printed campaign materials without source data as provided for in the legislation, placement of campaign materials in prohibited places / premises, non-compliance with requirements for media coverage of campaigning activities, the use of “black PR” technologies against political rivals. Furthermore, political parties and candidates resorted to pre-election campaigning prior to opening electoral fund accounts on a quite massive scale.

Over the course of election campaign OPORA’s observers have been recording cases of provision of material incentives to voters. It should be noted that self-nominated candidates running in single-member constituencies were the key initiators of such violations of electoral law and standards of free expression of the will of citizens. According to OPORA’s data, incidents involving direct or indirect bribery of voters, for the most part, were organized in favor of aforesaid electoral subjects (more than half of verified incidents). Candidates nominated by political parties resorted to provision of material incentives to voters much less often. Observers noted that some candidates made use of charitable foundations for campaigning purposes by means of providing goods, services and other forms of gratuitous aid to voters.

Structure of incidents bearing the marks of electoral violation as verified by OPORA’s observers in the May-July 2019 timeframe (continuous updating)

Type of violation of electoral law/standards

Number of violations

Illegal campaigning

1783

Provision of material incentives to voters (direct and indirect bribery, charitable funds)

202

Violations committed by election commissions

93

Abuse of administrative resources

44

Criminal interference in election process

17

Obstruction of the activities of journalists and observers

7

Violations committed by election commissions and their members rank third on the list of incidents recorded by OPORA’s observers. For the most part, such incidents include cases where members of election commissions neglected their duties, violation of the procedure for forming PECs, non-compliance with procedural rules for holding meetings of election commissions and maintaining electoral documentation.

Cases of abuse of administrative resources were less widespread during these elections as compared to other types of violation of electoral legislation and standards (44 verified cases). Incidents bearing the marks of abuse of administrative resources most often manifested themselves as  direct or indirect involvement of civil servants and local government officials in campaigning activities. Distribution or placement of campaign materials at the premises of state authorities was also a common violation.

According to OPORA’s methodology, various cases of obstruction of activities of candidates and political parties fall under the category of criminal interference in election process (17 verified cases). This includes cases of causing damage to campaign materials and outdoor advertising media, obstruction of electioneerers’ activities with the use of physical force, attacks on party offices launched by unknown persons, etc. Civil Network OPORA repeatedly called on the law enforcement agencies to crack down on attempts to interfere with activities of political parties and candidates and recognizes the efforts of law enforcers in this regard.

Unfortunately, this election campaign was accompanied by several cases of obstruction of the activities of official observers and journalists (7 verified incidents). OPORA’s observers were among those who suffered from such unlawful acts. For example, on July 5, 2019, unknown persons in Zastavna (Chernivtsi oblast) applied physical force and posed threats to OPORA’s official observer in the course of election observation. They illegally seized observer’s mobile phone in order to delete the video recorded by OPORA’s representative. OPORA hopes that law enforcement agencies will conduct unbiased investigations into unlawful acts against observers and journalists.

OPORA’s appeals to the National Police of Ukraine

In accordance to OPORA’s monitoring methodology, not only do observers record and verify electoral violations, but they also officially appeal to the National Police of Ukraine with the aim of initiating investigations into cases of non-compliance with the law.

Since the beginning of election process OPORA’s observers have filed 882 reports of electoral violations to the National Police of Ukraine (some of these reports included information about more than one violation).

The vast majority of police reports – 66% (or 582 reported violations) –  are related to cases of distribution of campaign materials with no source data (Article 212-13 of the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses), 22% of police reports (196 reported violations) – cases of non-compliance with pre-election campaigning rules (Article 212-10 of CUAO), including cases of financing of election campaign from sources other than the election fund, 51 police reports –placement of campaign materials in prohibited places (Article 212-14 of CUAO), 27 police reports – placement of campaign materials in violation of urban improvement rules (Article 152 of CUAO). Furthermore, observers filed 44 police reports in connection with incidents bearing the marks of criminal offence: 26 reports on violation of the rules of campaign finance (Article 159-1 of the Criminal Code), 16 reports on alleged bribery of voters (Article 160 of the Criminal Code), 3 reports on incitement to hostile acts (Article 161 of the Criminal Code), 3 reports on obstruction of the activities of official observers (in Chernivtsi and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts).

The largest quantities of police reports were filed by OPORA’s observers in Kharkiv (168 reports), Zaporizhzhya (151), Kirovohrad (82), and Dnipropetrovsk (67) oblasts.

OPORA’s observers filed 11 police reports in connection with recorded cases of indirect bribery of voters: 10 benches were installed in Volnovakha on behalf of candidate Dmytro Lubinets (incumbent MP); MP candidate L.Klimov organized a youth football tournament followed by prize-giving ceremony (Odessa oblast); 5 cardiographs were handed over to outpatient clinic in Galytsynove (Mykolayiv oblast) by candidate Volodymyr Tymoshyn on behalf of law firm “Tymoshyn and partners”; Bobrynets branch of “Ukrposhta” company received six new bicycles for the needs of postal workers while regional psychiatric hospital received a computer, spare parts and water cooler from candidate Yevhen Luchkov; candidate V. Dukhno made a present of keyboard instrument, amplifying equipment and air conditioner at the meeting with school staff in the city of Kompaniivka; candidate M.Polyakov gave the gift of column loudspeaker to the house of culture and a police car – to patrol-guard service in Kirovohrad oblast; candidate Dmytro Kryshun was offering free legal services in Kyiv oblast; mailboxes were installed at the entrance of apartment building on behalf of candidate Vitaliy Pavlyk (single-member constituency No.216 in Kyiv); representatives of charitable fund “Razom” established by candidate-philanthropist Lyudmyla Rusalina (single-member constituency No.197 in Cherkasy oblast) presented a laptop computer to the center of social services for population; General Director of “Tesla Energo” company and MP candidate Oleh Hramotenko conducted a festive event “Tesla Day” in the city of Zhytomyr (which included free travels by city trams, citizens were invited to free guided tours and treated with buckwheat, sausages and sprat canopies); candidate O.Mamai organized a music concert accompanied by distribution of gifts to all children who were present at the event; lotteries were held in campaign tents of MP candidates-brothers Oleksandr and Yuriy Bublyk (Poltava oblast).

OPORA’s observers filed reports of crimes covered by Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (incitement to hostile acts based on ethnic, racial or religious hatred) in single-member constituencies No.134 and No.135 (Odesa oblast). In particular, observers documented campaign materials in support of “Opposition Platform - For Life” containing photos of party’s candidates Vadym Rabynovych and Illya Kyva and slogans calling for violence.

According to OPORA’s representatives, officers of the National Police of Ukraine, for the most part, properly responded to their reports on violation of pre-election campaigning rules.

Trends Concerning the Violation of Electoral Law in July 2019

Cases of alleged bribery of voters

Despite the criminal and administrative liability for bribery of voters established by the legislation, MP candidates resort to providing various forms of material incentives to citizens. Vote buying technologies do not have the potential for influencing the election results when it comes to voting for electoral lists of political parties, but they may have a significant effect on voting pattern in single-member constituencies. The prevalence of vote buying practices in majoritarian constituencies has long been used as one of the main arguments in favor of changing the electoral system in Ukraine. However, in our opinion, in parallel with the change of electoral system it is also necessary to create additional opportunities for investigating such electoral crimes as well as strengthening the institutional capacity of law enforcement agencies. Civil Network OPORA welcomes the efforts of law enforcement officers to counter bribery of voters, but nevertheless emphasizes the necessity of enhancing measures to counteract financial stimulation of voters.

According to OPORA’s observers, indirect bribery of voters remains a widespread form of campaigning activity conducted by MP candidates. In accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine”, pre-election campaigning in the form of provision of monetary funds, goods, services, works, securities, loans, lottery tickets and other tangible assets to voters, institutions, organizations on a gratuitous or preferential basis which is accompanied by proposals or calls for vote / abstention from vote in favor of certain party or MP candidate, or mention of certain party or MP candidate, constitutes an indirect bribery of voters.

OPORA’s representatives didn’t record any verified facts of monetary bribery of citizens, but according to official data, the National Police of Ukraine has initiated 62 criminal investigations into cases of vote buying.

In the reporting period, MP candidates resorted to provision of various goods, services and other tangible assets to voters, institutions and organizations on a massive scale.

The list of goods and services provided to voters during pre-election campaigning is an extremely long one (below you will find illustrative examples of bribing practices utilized by MP candidates, but this is not an exhaustive list of such practices):

  • Gift certificates for sports and household equipment.
  • Health screening and provision of medical supplies. Distribution of eyeglasses to voters is still popular among MP candidates in various electoral districts. For example, a social initiative “Doctor goes to village” is being implemented in single-member constituency  No.17 (Vinnytsia oblast) with the assistance of incumbent MP and self-nominated candidate Mykola Kucher. Free tests for determining blood glucose levels were carried out in branded campaign tents of candidate Ihor Pober nominated by “UDAR” party in single-member constituency No.165 (Ternopil oblast). Printed campaign materials of aforesaid candidate were distributed simultaneously with free blood analysis.
  • Distribution of money prizes or other rewards to school graduates on behalf of candidates. For example, on the 29th of June at the graduation party in Yavoriv (single-member constituency No. 112), MP candidate Ihor Samardak nominated by “European Solidarity” gave money prizes in the amount of 1,000 UAH to 11 school graduates.
  • Charitable actions in support of orphans, ATO participants and other groups of the population.
  • Provision of money, goods or services to religious organizations.
  • Material support for sports or health-improving events.
  • Holding of free lotteries where voters could win valuable prizes or even cash prizes. For example, candidate Olha Pokrovska nominated by “Holos” party in single-member constituency No.127 organized a competition for children aged under 16. Winners of competition have a chance of receiving a one-week family package tour to a sea resort, and incentive prizes will be given to all participants. Candidate’s official web resources also informed that 40 vulnerable families in Mykolayiv region could receive a gift certificate for package tour to a sea resort.
  • Distribution of grocery baskets and / or ready-made meals among voters, holding of family picnics (observers in different regions mentioned the fact that campaigning events where candidates treat voters to red-beet soup (borshch) cooked according to their personal “recipes” are quite popular). In particular, 5kg bags of sugar were distributed to voters in Kreminna town (single-member constituency No. 114 in Luhansk oblast) on behalf of “Nash Krai” fund established by S.Shakhov. Serhiy Shakhov is a sitting member of parliament whose political team is represented by MP candidates running in various constituencies of Luhansk region. In the city of Mykolayiv, observers recorded cases of alleged distribution of grocery baskets among participants of the meeting with candidate Anatoliy Dvornyk nominated by “Opposition Platform - For Life” in single-member constituency No.128.
  • Holding of “canned food festivals” accompanied by distribution of food products among voters.
  • Purchase of construction materials for voters. For example, on June 27, 2019, OPORA’s observers in Verkhovyna (single-member constituency No.89 in Ivano-Frankivsk oblast) detected packages of pave stones bearing an inscription “From Serhiy Besarab”. Serhiy Besarab is the deputy head of Ivano-Frankivsk oblast council and MP candidate nominated  by “European Solidarity” in constituency No.89.
  • Installation of new mailboxes at the request of voters. For example, installation of new mailboxes in single-member constituency No.214 (Kyiv) was accompanied by distribution of campaign materials in support of candidate Oles Malyarevych nominated by “European Solidarity” party.
  • Giving bicycles as a gift to postal workers and provision of medical equipment to health care institutions. For example, self-nominated candidate Yevhen Luchkov (single-member constituency No.100 in Kirovohrad oblast) made a present of bicycles to local post office.
  • Installation of children’s playgrounds. By tradition, this form of pre-election charity is very popular among candidates. It should be noted that children’s playgrounds are often financed by enterprises headed by MP candidates. In particular, this is the case of single-member constituency No.194 (Cherkasy city), where the head of quality control department of PJSC “AZOT” Ivan Sukharkov was nominated as MP candidate by AUU “Cherkashchany”.
  • Transportation of voters to tourist centers and recreational areas. For example, self-nominated candidate Viktor Shevchenko (single-member constituency No.85 in Ivano-Frankivsk oblast) campaigned for himself and “Servant of the People” party on the territory of tourist complex “Bukovel”. This tourist complex is located in another constituency, which is why OPORA’s representatives appealed to the police with a request to check alleged facts of provision of services to voters that may constitute an indirect bribery of voters.
  • Repair of local roads. In particular, OPORA’s observers pointed to the fact that campaigns for road resurfacing form part of the election campaign of incumbent MP and self-nominated candidate Serhiy Rybalka (single-member constituency No.107 in Luhansk oblast).
  • Provision of a broad range of services on a gratuitous or preferential basis by enterprises and organizations affiliated with MP candidates. For example, free car wash services were offered to residents of single-member constituency No.202 on behalf of candidate Andriy Makovei nominated by AUU “Batkivshchyna”.

OPORA’s observers also emphasized the significant activity of charitable foundations directly or indirectly affiliated with MP candidates. Charitable funds operate in various regions of Ukraine and are used by a broad range of candidates as a formal tool for bypassing the legislative ban on pre-election campaigning by means of providing voters with goods and services. In some regions, charitable foundations have ceased operations or reduced the intensity of campaigning activities in favor of MP candidates due to attracting unwanted attention of law enforcement agencies and observers (in Kyiv). 

The recorded examples of pre-election “charity” are not a new phenomenon in electoral history of Ukraine. The same technologies were used in 2014 parliamentary elections and, especially, in 2012 regular elections. Persistence of such malpractice testifies to the need for adopting a radically new approach to legislative and practical prevention of bribery of voters. One of the most promising opportunities for solving this problem - governmental draft law No.8270 on ensuring the inevitability of punishment for electoral crimes. This draft law was developed by law enforcement agencies in collaboration with members of the public. In April 2018, draft law No.8270 was registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. According to OPORA, the newly elected members of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine are obliged to proceed to serious and, most importantly, meaningful discussion on ways of counteracting bribery of voters.

Abuse of administrative resources for electoral purposes

OPORA’s observers noted the absence of centrally orchestrated and systemic abuse of administrative resources during special elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine. This conclusion holds true for both June and July 2019.

Abuse of administrative resources in the election process describes a situation where representatives of political parties or candidates take advantage of occupied positions in state authorities or make use of their ties with the Government in order to gain the upper hand in the election process. The fact that none of political forces is in position to exercise control over power vertical throughout the country has a positive effect on the course of the election campaign. However, as OPORA has previously stated on a number of occasions, observers recorded multiple cases of violation of the principle of political impartiality on the part of officials of public administrations at the level of single-member constituencies and certain territorial communities. According to OPORA, special elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine once again highlighted the need to strengthen the guarantees of politically unbiased functioning of state authorities and local self-government bodies during the election process.

Public officials holding positions at different levels of state authorities  are quite massively involved in election process in the status of MP candidates and / or electioneerers campaigning for certain political parties or MP candidates. It should be emphasized that the Prime Minister of Ukraine and No.1 candidate on electoral list of “Groysman’s Ukrainian Strategy” party Volodymyr Groysman as well as other Cabinet members-candidates representing this political force failed to draw a clear distinction between official duties and campaigning activities during the election process. “Groysman’s Ukrainian Strategy” has made heavy use of current activities and the results of work of Ukrainian Government with the aim of attracting voters’ attention to its list of MP candidates. Despite the fact that the process of rotation of heads of rayon state administrations has already begun, some of them contributed to campaigning activities of MP candidates affiliated with the political force of former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. In some cases, OPORA’s observers drew attention to the presence of majoritarian candidates representing “Servant of the People” party at official meetings with the participation of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.

Mass-scale practice of involving local officials in campaigning events of MP candidates as well as cases where public officials voice their support for certain candidates cause considerable concern in the context of ensuring adherence to the principles of political impartiality of public administration. Several candidates took advantage of their current MP status to bypass the legislative bans and restrictions imposed on electoral subjects  (use of official meetings for pre-election campaigning purposes, participation in implementation of social, charitable and infrastructure projects, presence in local media on a non-competitive basis).

According to the Law of Ukraine “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine”, equal rights and opportunities for MP candidates and parties-electoral subjects are guaranteed by the bodies of state authority, authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, local self-government bodies, their staff and officials who must ensure equal and unbiased treatment of all candidates and parties-electoral subjects. In practice, voters found it difficult to distinguish between official duties and activities of heads and / or other members of public authorities and their political stance on electoral subjects.

For example, heads of village councils in Pustomyty rayon voice their support for incumbent MP and candidate Bohdan Dubnevych (single-member constituency No.118 in Lviv oblast). Mayor of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ruslan Martsinkiv, was actively campaigning for candidates Oksana Savchuk (single-member constituency No.83) and Vasyl Popovych (single-member constituency No.84) nominated by AUU “Svoboda”, and he made use of official events of state authorities for this purpose.

Conclusion of agreement on cooperation between self-nominated candidate Andriy Ivanchuk (single-member constituency No.88) and territorial community of Kolomyia (Ivano-Frankivsk oblast) constitutes a clear violation of legislative requirements for political impartiality of state authorities during electoral process. Cooperation agreement was signed by mayor of Kolomyia, Ihor Slyuzar, on behalf of voters and members of community. According to this agreement, MP candidate promises to solve urgent local problems in the case of his election to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

In single-member constituency No.205 (Chernihiv oblast), outdoor advertisement in support of self-nominated candidate Valeriy Kulinich contains a photo of acting mayor of Chernihiv Vladyslav Atroshenko and his appeal to voters “Your vote for Kulinich is your support for Chernihiv”. Furthermore, city mayor and MP candidate made several joint visits to municipal enterprises of Chernihiv. Mayor of Zhytomyr (single-member constituency No. 62), Serhiy Sukhomlyn and Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Hennadiy Zubko participated in video address in support of self-nominated candidate Ihor Gundych. Meanwhile, mayor of Kharkiv, Hennadiy Kernes, conducted joint meetings with voters and official events in collaboration with self-nominated candidate and incumbent MP Oleksandr Hranovskiy (single-member constituency No.169). The above-mentioned illustrative examples are not an exhaustive list of campaigning malpractices recorded during special elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine.

Besides the mentioned cases of public demonstration of support for candidates on the part of state officials, the abuse of budgetary administrative resources also remains a serious problem when it comes to campaigning in electoral districts. Incumbent MPs and registered candidates in special parliamentary elections are making heavy use of events and measures aimed at implementing national and local socio-economic development programs for campaigning in their own favor. The same can be said for leaders of local authorities-MP candidates that have official or political access to regional state-financed programs. Civil Network OPORA monitors the use of budgetary resources for campaigning and political purposes on an ongoing basis. The latest monitoring report is publicly available on OPORA’s website. The negative effect of abuse of budgetary administrative resources on competitiveness of electoral process is partially mitigated by the fact that representatives of various political forces have access to these resources. However, according to OPORA, abuse of budgetary administrative resources is one of the key challenges for democratic elections in Ukraine. This problem must be resolved at the legislative and sub-legislative levels.

In the run-up to regular election of the President of Ukraine, OPORA presented Recommendations to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on ensuring transparent and balanced distribution of state-financed subventions intended for socio-economic development of certain territories while preventing the abuse of administrative resources in 2019 national elections. Unfortunately, our recommendations on preventing such abusive practices are yet to be taken into account by the Government. In this context, we hope that the current or newly appointed members of the Government will eventually take heed of the calls for crackdown on abuse of budgetary resources in favor of certain political and electoral subjects.

OPORA’s recommendations to the Cabinet of Ministers in this regard can be successfully adapted to the specifics of activities of local self-government bodies with the aim of counteracting the abuse of budgetary administrative resources at local level.

OPORA’s observers didn’t record any proven facts of unlawful coercion of voters on the part of public officials and heads of state or communal enterprises. However, electoral subjects and mass media published information about illegal acts against voters allegedly committed by public officials. In particular, candidate Artyom Fedetskyi nominated by “Servant of the People” party in single-member constituency No.118 (Lviv oblast) said that voters in Pustomyty rayon complained about attempts allegedly made by chiefs of villages to prohibit them from participating in the meetings with candidate Fedetskyi. According to Artyom Fedetsky, intimidation and coercion of voters was carried out in favor of self-nominated candidate Bohdan Dubnevych.

In order to verify the information about alleged coercion of voters-students of the National University “Odesa Law Academy”, OPORA’s ombudswoman for electoral rights filed an information request with higher education establishment in order to clarify the grounds for rescheduling June 2019 examination session for July 2019. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for a response to this request, while OPORA’s observers continue to receive information about holding of events in “Odesa Law Academy” with the participation of incumbent MP and self-nominated candidate Serhiy Kivalov (single-member constituency No.135), who is also the President of this university.

OPORA recognizes the efforts of National Police to verify alleged facts of exerting pressure on voters (in particular, in Olevsk, Zhytomyr oblast), but once again calls on law enforcement officers to pay special attention to counteracting coercion of citizens.

The use of “black PR” technologies

Civil Network OPORA’s observers noted the increasing intensity of campaigns aimed at disseminating deliberately false or compromising information about political parties and MP candidates. As a rule, these campaigns are implemented through the distribution of anonymous leaflets and newspapers. The practice of posting derogatory information materials about political rivals on local web resources is also quite common, and the content of such materials is clearly biased and unbalanced. According to OPORA’s rough estimates, “black PR” technologies are mostly directed against representatives of “Holos”, “Servant of the People”, “Opposition Platform -For Life”, “European Solidarity”. It should be noted that majoritarian candidates are the main targets of negative campaigning.

Political campaigning on Facebook

Electoral law doesn’t single out online advertising as a separate form of pre-election campaigning (online advertising is referred to other forms of campaigning). Furthermore, there are no separate classification codes for online advertising in general and social media advertising in particular as provided for by CEC Resolution No.1010 as of June 14, 2019, which approved the forms of financial reports on receipt and spending of election funds of political parties and MP candidates. National Agency on Corruption Prevention also doesn’t have a special methodology for tracking online advertisements. As a result, in the absence of explicit legislative prohibitions it is impossible to prosecute a person for financing placement of campaign materials on the Internet and social media from sources other than the election fund. On the other hand, current law prohibits financing of campaigning activities from own funds of political parties, MP candidates or other sources, including those conducted at the initiative of voters, which means that social media advertising financed by third parties is not an acceptable form of campaigning.

Political Ad Library, which was opened by Facebook with the aim of increasing accountability and transparency in advertising and preventing foreign interference in election process throughout the world, is just about the only source of information about online campaigning activities. Facebook introduced new rules and requirements for placing political advertisements. In particular, advertiser must confirm his identity as well as provide additional information (address, phone, email, website). Furthermore, Facebook imposed a prohibition on placement of political ads by foreign customers in the context of preventing foreign interference in election process. From now on, all political advertisements are collected and kept in political Ad Library for a period of 7 years, and they are available to general public.

During the active stage of election campaign (from May 24 to July 15, 2019), a total of 40,427 political ads were posted on Facebook. The number of published advertisements is increasing in the run-up to the Election Day. 72% of all political ads were posted in July.

Such distribution of quantity of posted advertisements is not only due to intensification of pre-election campaigns of political parties and candidates, but also due to the process of identification of political advertising launched by Facebook. Consequently, at the start of election process the majority of political ads were published as ordinary advertising, but since the middle of June Facebook has been blocking political ads which were posted without proper labeling.

Overall, according to Ad Library report, more than 1 million 800 thousand US dollars were spent on political advertising on Facebook during the period from May 24 to July 15, 2019. The city of Kyiv accounts for the largest portion of political ad impressions - 14.5%, Lviv oblast - 9.28%, and Dnipropetrovsk oblast - 7.61%. The smallest quantities of political ad impressions on Facebook were recorded in Luhansk oblast - 0.71%, and Kherson oblast. It should be noted that Facebook doesn’t show Ukrainian political ads to users from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

Public pages of political parties and leading candidates on electoral lists spent more than $ 1 million on political advertisements. Public pages campaigning for candidates in single-member constituencies spent only half that amount - $ 500 thousand.

Statistics of parties’ expenditures on political advertisements posted to Facebook

Name of party

Amount spent (USD)

Total number of posted ads

Holos

232344

470

European Solidarity

209780

250

Syla Prava

136915

66

Servant of the People

69576

560

Batkivshchyna

72888

76

Party of Shariy

44533

1607

Opposition Platform

46970

2350

Samopomich

38039

199

Groysman’s Ukrainian Strategy

30200

103

Opposition Bloc

36286

336

Social Justice

21326

479

Agrarian Party of Ukraine

9182

55

Mykhailo Saakashvili’s Movement of New Forces

7617

24

Radical Party of Oleh Liashko

6526

17

Civic Position

4452

40

Independence

3828

24

AUU “Fakel”

2639

20

 “Holos” party spent the largest amount of funds on pre-election campaigning on Facebook - about 230 thousand dollars – and posted 470 political ads to this social media. Primary target audience of “Holos” resides in Lviv - almost 11% of all impressions, and Kyiv. The smallest number of political ad impressions was recorded in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. In its interim financial report, the party indicated expenditures on social media advertising services in the amount of 1.5 million UAH (about 57 thousand dollars).

During the period from May 23 to July 15, 2019, “European Solidarity” posted 250 political advertisements to Facebook and spent more than $ 209,780 for this purpose. Primary target audience of this party resides in Kyiv city and Lviv oblast. At the same time, party’s campaign placed less emphasis on residents of eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. In its interim financial report, “European Solidarity” didn’t indicate any expenditures on placement of campaign materials on social media.

 “Syla Prava” party spent more than 136 thousand dollars on publication of 66 campaign materials. The largest numbers of political ad impressions were recorded in Kyiv city and Lviv oblast. According to Facebook, party’s campaigning activities were financed by NGO “All-Ukrainian Union “Spilna Sprava” and All-Ukrainian civic movement “Syla Prava”. According to party’s interim financial report, “Syla Prava” didn’t receive or withdraw any money from its election fund account.

All-Ukrainian Association “Batkivshchyna” posted 67 political ads to Facebook and spent more than 72 thousand dollars for this purpose. The largest numbers of political ad impressions were recorded in Kyiv city and Lviv oblast. According to the information provided by Facebook, publication of party’s campaign materials was financed by LLC ”Modern advertising solutions” (Suchasni Reklamni Rishennya) and NGO “I vote for Tymoshenko”. In its interim financial report, the party indicated one payment to LLC “Modern advertising solutions” in the amount of 100 thousand UAH covered by article 1400 “Other expenses for pre-election campaigning”.

 “Servant of the People” spent more than 47 thousand dollars on political advertising on Facebook. The largest numbers of political ad impressions were generated by voters from Lviv oblast and Kyiv city, the smallest number of impressions was recorded in Luhansk oblast. In its interim financial report, the party indicated 10 payments for online advertising in the amount of 45,900 UAH. However, the majority of these payments were made for placing political ads in online media.

 “Opposition Platform - For Life” posted 2,350 political ads to Facebook and spent more than $ 47,000. The largest number of party’s campaign materials was published on the page “Boyko – Prime Minister”. Primary target audience of party’s political ads - voters aged 35+ residing in southern and eastern regions of Ukraine. The majority of party’s campaigning activities were financed by civic movement “Boyko – Prime Minister”. Party’s interim report does not include any expenditures on social media and online advertising.

Party of Shariy posted 1,607 political ads to Facebook and spent more than $ 44,533 for this purpose. The largest numbers of political ad impressions were recorded in Kyiv city and Dnipropetrovsk oblast, the smallest number - in Chernivtsi oblast. In its interim financial report, the party indicated three payments for placing campaign materials on the Internet in the amount of 1.3 million UAH.

 “Samopomich” Union posted 199 political ads to Facebook and spent more than 38 thousand dollars for this purpose. The largest numbers of political ad impressions were recorded in Kyiv city and Lviv oblast. NGO “Your Choice” provided financial support in the amount of $ 14,000 for party’s campaigning activities. In its interim report, the party indicated one payment for online advertising in the amount of 50 thousand UAH.

 “Opposition Bloc” posted 336 campaign materials to Facebook and paid more than 36 thousand dollars. The largest numbers of political ad impressions were recorded in Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv oblasts, and the smallest – in Volyn oblast. In its interim financial report, the party didn’t indicate any payments for social media and online advertising services.

“Groysman’s Ukrainian Strategy” posted 103 political ads to Facebook and spent more than 30 thousand dollars for this purpose. The largest numbers of political ad impressions were recorded in Kyiv city and Lviv oblast, the smallest - in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. In its interim report, the party didn’t indicate any payments for social media and online advertising.

The number of posted political ads containing elements of “black PR” technology has also increased in parallel with the active use of social networks by parties and candidates for campaigning purposes. However, for the most part, “black PR” materials were directed against candidates running in single-member constituencies. Public page “Only the Truth” is an illustrative example of using “black PR” technology at the national level. 11 political ads were published on this page, of which 10 were aimed at bringing discredit to one of the parties. However, in violation of the existing rules for placement of political advertisements these ads were posted without proper labeling and didn’t contain any information about advertising customer.

Due to the general trend towards using new forms and methods of pre-election campaigning, the legislative mechanisms for monitoring and reporting on online political advertising should be amended correspondingly along with imposition of explicit prohibitions to provide for the possibility of bringing to justice. Meanwhile, after assuming social responsibility Facebook needs to make all the necessary changes and improve its standards for placement of political ads with the aim of preventing the use of political advertising as a tool for distributing misinformation and false information among voters.

Activities of the Central Election Commission

Over the last month of election campaign the Central Election Commission adopted more than 800 resolutions concerning various aspects of organization of special elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine scheduled for July 21, 2019. During this period, the list of main organizational duties of the Central Election Commission in the context of preparation and conduct of early parliamentary elections included the following: 1) completion of the process of registration of MP candidates and cancellation of registration of MP candidates on the grounds of their declarations of withdrawal from election or political party’s request to cancel registration of MP candidate; 2) registration / cancellation of registration of authorized agents of candidates / authorized persons; 3) making changes in the composition of DECs as well as adoption / introduction of amendments into unified expense budgets of DECs; 4) drawing lots to determine the ranking order of parties’ names appearing on the ballot paper for voting in nationwide and single-member constituencies; 5) approval of the form, color and text of ballot papers for voting in nationwide and single-member constituencies; 6) registration of official observers representing foreign states and international organizations; 7) ensuring the production of posters containing information about parties whose candidates are registered in nationwide constituency; 8) ensuring the production of ballot papers.

CEC adopted several resolutions on formation, introduction of changes in the composition and activities of election commissions, in particular: one resolution on formation of PECs in foreign constituency; one resolution on early termination of the powers of all members of DEC in single-member constituency No.47 due to gross violation of the requirements for allocation of senior positions in PECs and appointment of new members of this election commission; 14 resolutions on introduction of changes in the composition of DECs; 2 resolutions on introduction of changes in the composition of PECs in foreign constituency.

In the period from July 1 to July 18, 2019, CEC adopted several resolutions on cancelation of registration of MP candidates, in particular: 13 resolutions - on the grounds of candidate’s declaration of withdrawal from election; 4 resolutions – on the grounds of candidate’s non-compliance with local residence requirement; 3 resolutions – on the grounds of party’s request to cancel registration; one resolution – on the grounds of candidate’s withdrawal from election and party’s request).

Central Election Commission has been actively reacting to the problem of breach of time limits for opening election fund accounts of candidates. According to section one of Article 48 of the Law of Ukraine “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine”, political parties whose candidates were registered in nationwide constituency and MP candidates registered in single-member constituencies are obliged to open an election fund account no later than within ten days after the day of their registration by the Central Election Commission. In the case of failure to meet this deadline the CEC shall issue a warning to offending candidate (party).

CEC adopted two resolutions on issuance of a warning for breaching the time limits for opening an election fund account with respect to 38 candidates (CEC resolution as of July 8, 2019), 684 MP candidates registered in single-member constituencies and “Syla Lyudey” party (CEC resolution as of July 18, 2019).

Analysis of interim and final financial reports on receipt and spending of election funds of political parties is one of the key control measures applied by the Central Election Commission when it comes to supervision over campaign finance of electoral subjects. On July 18, CEC held a meeting and approved the results of Analysis of interim financial reports on receipt and spending of election funds which were filed by 21 political parties. In addition to formal analysis of compliance with legislative requirements for financial reporting, the CEC also made use of information received from the National Agency on Corruption Prevention. The CEC is obliged to publish the results of analysis of financial reports no later than two days before the Election Day.

In view of adoption of CEC resolutions on cancellation of registration of certain MP candidates (in single-member constituencies No. 12, 17, 21, 24, 27, 31, 32, 36, 39, 40, 64, 65, 70, 74 - 76, 78 , 81, 84, 94, 96, 97, 100 - 102, 123, 130, 135, 136, 141, 143, 149, 159, 176, 182 - 184, 200 - 202, 204, 212) and inability to reprint ballot papers for voting in above-mentioned constituencies, the Central Election Commission placed precinct election commissions of ordinary and special polling stations located in these constituencies under an obligation to make amendments in ballot papers at the ballot acceptance meetings by way of putting a stamp “Withdrew from election” against the names (and details) of MP candidates whose registration was canceled simultaneously with affixing the PEC seal to such ballots. The CEC also instructed PECs to put the stamp “Withdrew from election” horizontally so as to cover the blank field, full name and part of other details about MP candidate. At the same time, the stamp should not cover any details about other MP candidates.

CEC adopted a total of 17 resolutions on enforcement of judgments mostly related to cases of registration of candidates and updating the biographical information in ballot papers. 18 CEC resolutions introduced amendments into previously adopted resolutions of the CEC. In particular, CEC resolution No.1575 as of July 10, 2019, introduced amendments into Clarification on compilation and correction of voter lists in preparation for the conduct of elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine. Clarification was supplemented by a new section concerning the transfer of voter lists from the bodies responsible for maintenance of State Register of Voters to archival institutions.

CEC resolutions No.1398, No.1410, No.1415, No.1486 and No.1504 were related to introduction of amendments into ballot papers in connection with registration of new participants of electoral process by the Central Election Commission on the grounds of decisions of the Supreme Court or due to changes in information about MP candidate.

CEC resolutions No.1442, No.1502 as of July 5, 2019, were adopted for the purpose of enforcement of judgments that recognized certain candidates as unaffiliated with corresponding party or non-party candidates. In order to avoid misinforming voters about aforesaid MP candidates and ensure adherence to the principle of free expression of the will, the CEC deemed it necessary to amend the above-mentioned resolutions insofar as it refers to updating the information about party affiliation of MP candidates.

CEC resolution No.1645 concerned the case where CEC canceled the registration of MP candidate Mykola Babenko (single-member constituency No.90) in special elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine scheduled for July 21, 2019, on the grounds of declaration of withdrawal from election submitted by unknown persons. Subsequently, MP candidate addressed the CEC with a request for invalidating the declaration of withdrawal which was submitted to the CEC on July 5, 2019. As a result, the CEC appealed to the National Police and deleted the name of candidate from the text of annexes to resolution on cancelation of registration of MP candidates.

CEC registered 117 official observers representing 12 foreign states and 1,602 observers representing 21 international organizations on the grounds of corresponding applications. By comparison, in 2014 special parliamentary elections the CEC registered 304 observers from 21 foreign states and 2,017 observers representing 20 international organizations. At the same time, the CEC refused to register 17 citizens of the Russian Federation as official OSCE / ODIHR observers. This decision is stipulated by the provisions of the Law of Ukraine “On the peculiarities of the state policy on ensuring Ukraine’s state sovereignty over temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts”. Furthermore, CEC adopted a resolution on denial of registration of international observers due to breach of time limits for submitting registration documents (before July 13, 2019).

Furthermore,  CEC adopted a protocol decision on the procedure for receiving access to the premises of Central Election Commission for the period from July 20, 2019, to the day after official announcement of the results of special elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine scheduled for July 21, 2019, in order to prevent intervention of any officials and citizens in the activities falling within the competence of the Commission as well as ensure protection of information processed and stored with the help of Commission’s computational resources, in particular, the unified information technology system “Elections”.

On July 15, the process of temporary change of voting place was completed, and 280,922 Ukrainians took advantage of their right to change the voting place. Simplification of the procedure for temporary change of voting place without changing the electoral address (based on CEC resolution No.910 as of May 29, 2019, which abolished the requirement to support the application for temporary change of voting place with documentary evidence confirming the necessity of such a change) was definitely a positive step towards creating proper conditions for the exercise of citizens’ voting rights.

CEC adopted 36 resolutions related to consideration of complaints (in 13 cases the complaint was left without consideration on the merits, in 19 cases the complaint was dismissed). 4 complaints were partially satisfied, in particular: the illegal actions of candidate V.Kulich (single-member constituency No.205) relating to placement of printed campaign materials with no information about advertising customer on the outdoor advertising media, and the actions of candidate V.Hnatenko (single-member constituency No.49) relating to placement of campaign materials in places that weren’t specially designated for this purpose by the decision of city council (however, the CEC refused to issue warnings to these candidates).

CEC established that the actions of candidate I.Rybakov (single-member constituency No.207) relating to placement of printed campaign materials on the outdoor advertising media, which contain imitation of putting a mark against the name of MP candidate Rybakov in the ballot paper and inscriptions signifying the invalidity of ballot papers in the case of putting a mark against the names of other candidates, constitute a violation of the law.

There was an issue with cancellation of registration of MP candidate O.Kunytsky based on the results of consideration of complaint filed by candidate O.Petrichenko (CEC resolution No.1611 as of July 11, 2019). CEC noted that the period of candidate’s stay abroad lasted longer than 90 calendar days (namely 264 days - from March 15 to December 5, 2015) according to information contained in the letter of State Border Guard Service of Ukraine as of June 26, 2019. However, despite receiving this information on June 26, the CEC canceled registration of this candidate only in the course of consideration of complaint filed by another candidate on July 9, 2019. According to the decision of Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal as of July 14, 2019 (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/83024112), CEC resolution was ruled as illegal. Supreme Court upheld the ruling of court of first instance. Consequently, CEC resolution No.1611 as of July 11, 2019, was invalidated.

CEC adopted 4 decisions in response to requests for access to public information (information requests were related to provision of contact details of DEC members and staff as well as details and photos of MP candidates). CEC dismissed all requests and refused to provide information to applicants.

In July, CEC adopted several decisions on regulation of certain electoral procedures: provision of airtime for campaigning purposes; the results of drawing lotteries to determine the order of priority for providing political parties with airtime; determination of occupied territories where parliamentary elections shall not be organized and conducted; in view of the absence of regional (local) printed media in communal or state ownership (as a result of implementation of reforms in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On the Reform of State and Communal Printed Media”), the CEC allowed MP candidates to publish their election programs in regional printed media of all ownership types as determined by relevant DECs; CEC issued permissions for the production of ballot papers at the polar station of Ukraine and on the board of any ship sailing under the State Flag of Ukraine on the Election Day.

DEC activities with regard to formation of PECs.  Representation of electoral subjects in PECs

Matters relating to organization and holding of a vote in the elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine fall within the scope of competence of DECs. District election commissions were obliged to form PECs in 199 single-member constituencies on or before July 5. According to OPORA’s observers, 171 DECs (or 86% of all DECs) met the deadline for forming PECs. In other cases, PECs were formed with a short delay or there is no reliable information about the date and time of completion of corresponding procedure.

PECs located in single-member constituency No.47 (Donetsk oblast) were formed after all the others - on July 11. Such a long delay was due to adoption of CEC decision on early termination of powers of all members of local DEC and invalidation of its decision on the formation of PECs. This CEC decision was adopted after the aforesaid DEC rejected 113 candidates for the positions of PEC members nominated by “European Solidarity” party which has a faction in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The applications of candidates for the positions of PEC members include their consent to represent the interests of “European Solidarity” party, which nominated MP candidates in nationwide constituency, instead of parliamentary faction. CEC took due account of the fact that nominating entity submitted these applications as a replacement, but DEC ignored these documents.

The following entities are entitled to nominate their candidates for members of PECs in ordinary and special polling stations: 1) political parties whose parliamentary factions are registered in the current convocation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine; 2) political parties-electoral subjects whose MP candidates are registered in nationwide multi-member constituency; 3) MP candidates registered in the corresponding single-member constituency.

All electoral subjects are provided with the opportunity to nominate one candidate to the composition of every PEC, but only parliamentary parties hold mandatory quotas. Candidates nominated by two other entities were subject to lot drawing if the number of nominated candidates exceeded the maximum allowed number of PEC members. Therefore, parliamentary parties which nominated their MP candidates in both nationwide and single-member constituencies had the chance of winning up to 3 seats in the composition of PEC (one seat – mandatory quota, two seats – based on the results of lot drawing).

Political parties and MP candidates were allowed to submit their lists of nominees to PECs on or before July 3. All entities met the deadline for nominating their candidates for members of PECs.

All three entities combined nominated a total of 426,735 candidates for members of PECs, of which 3% (more than 11,000 nominees) were rejected by DECs on the grounds of detected violations in the applications.

Total number of candidates nominated to the positions of PEC members by electoral subjects

Nominating entity

Nominations to PECs

Parties in nationwide constituency

146621

MP candidates nominated by parties

82493

Self-nominated MP candidates

75165

Parliamentary factions

122456

All entities combined

426735

Rejected nominations

11253

% of rejected nominations

3%

The process of forming PECs was marked by numerous cases of nomination of one and the same person to election commission by different electoral subjects. In 199 constituencies, DECs detected 3,552 duplicate candidates for PEC members simultaneously nominated by various parties and MP candidates.

According to the law of Ukraine, lot drawing procedure shall be performed if the number of nominees subject to inclusion in the composition of PEC through lot drawing exceeds the number of vacant seats in this commission. According to OPORA, 60% of all DECs performed lot drawing procedures in order to appoint members of PECs, 40% of all DECs didn’t have the necessity to draw lots.

OPORA’s observers recorded several violations of the law in the process of drawing of candidates for PEC members:

  • DECs failed to compile lists of candidates for each PEC before the start of lot drawing procedure (3 cases).
  • Candidates for PEC members were not listed in alphabetic order (4).
  • Head of DEC didn’t announce the number of nominated candidates and the maximum allowed number of members for each PEC (7).
  • Incorrect number of lots (5).
  • Head of DEC didn’t announce the composition (appointed members) of each PEC (29).
  • DEC meeting was held immediately after lot drawing procedure and PECs  were formed in a non-public manner (23).

Activity of electoral subjects with regard to nominating their candidates for members of PECs

AUU “Batkivshchyna” and “European Solidarity” nominated the largest number of candidates for members of PECs as compared to other political parties represented in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. These two parties nominated one candidate to more than 90% of all precinct election commissions. The Radical Party of Oleh Liashko nominated its candidates to 78% of all PECs, Opposition Bloc – to 64%, People’s Front – to 54% of all PECs. “Samopomich” Union took advantage of its parliamentary party status to a smaller extent by far and nominated its candidates only to  34% of all PECs. All 6 parties combined have nominated more than 122 thousand candidates in accordance with mandatory quota requirement.

Only 1 out of 22 political parties that nominated MP candidates in nationwide constituency (namely, Party of Shariy) didn’t nominate any candidates for members of PECs. All other parties took advantage of their right to nominate candidates, at least, to a small number of PECs. The number of candidates for PEC members nominated by various parties differs greatly.

Top 5 parties that nominated the largest number of candidates for members of PECs are as follows: Servant of the People (nominated one candidate to 90% of all PECs), Opposition Platform (79%), AUU “Batkivshchyna” (72%), European Solidarity (54%) and AUU “Svoboda” (48%). Other parties nominated fewer candidates for PEC members. It is worth noting that some of the parties which conducted strong pre-election campaigns have nominated a relatively small number of candidates for PEC members. For example, “Holos” and “Groysman’s Ukrainian Strategy” submitted their nominees to only a few precinct election commissions located in a small number of electoral districts.

Activity of political parties that nominated MP candidates in nationwide constituency with regard to nominating their candidates for members of PECs

Name of political party

Total

% of PECs with nominated candidates

Servant of the People

26786

90%

Opposition Platform – For Life

23676

79%

 AUU “Batkivshchyna”

21506

72%

European Solidarity

16200

54%

AUU “Svoboda”

14268

48%

Syla i Chest

9750

33%

Opposition Bloc

7643

26%

Radical Party of Oleh Liashko

6791

23%

Agrarian Party of Ukraine

5945

20%

Civic Position

4561

15%

Similarly, “Servant of the People”, “Opposition Platform - For Life”, AUU “Batkivshchyna”, “European Solidarity” and AUU “Svoboda” are the leaders in terms of the number of nominees submitted to PECs by majoritarian MP candidates representing these parties. It should be noted that “Servant of the People” had the right to nominate candidates for members of PECs in all electoral districts, since its MP candidates are registered in all single-member constituencies.

Majoritarian MP candidates representing other parties submitted fewer nominees to PECs, or the parties simply didn’t register any MP candidates in single-member constituencies.

Name of party

Total

% of PECs with nominated candidates

Majoritarian MP candidates of “Servant of the People”

25034

84%

Majoritarian MP candidates of “Opposition Platform – For Life”

14029

47%

Majoritarian MP candidates of AUU “Batkivshchyna”

11829

40%

 Majoritarian MP candidates of “European Solidarity”

6427

22%

Majoritarian MP candidates of AUU “Svoboda”

6365

21%

All others combined

18809

 

Representation of political parties with parliamentary factions in PECs

According to OPORA, AUU “Batkivshchyna” has the largest representation in PECs as compared to other 5 political parties with parliamentary factions in the current convocation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. This party is represented in 91% of all PECs in each of 199 electoral constituencies. “European Solidarity” is represented in 87% of all PECs, Radical Party of Oleh Liashko – in 75% of all PECs. Representatives of these parties hold more than 20,000 seats in PECs under mandatory quota requirement.

 “Opposition Bloc” is represented in 64% of all PECs thanks to “parliamentary party” quota. This political force didn’t submit any nominees to PECs in 36 single-member constituencies, and therefore it didn’t take full advantage of mandatory quota requirement.

“People’s Front” didn’t nominate any MP candidates for the elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine, but is represented in 52% of all PECs. This political party didn’t submit any nominees to PECs in 89 out of 199 electoral constituencies, and therefore it won’t be represented in the corresponding election commissions.

“Samopomich” Union filled the smallest number of mandatory quota seats in PECs as compared to other parliamentary parties. This political force holds one seat in 31% of all PECs within the country, and it didn’t submit any nominees to PECs in 93 constituencies.

Representation of parliamentary parties in PECs (under mandatory quota requirement)

Name of party 

Total number of PEC members

Total number of occupied senior positions

% of PECs in which represented

AUU “Batkivshchyna”

27284

6384

92%

European Solidarity

26183

6185

91%

Radical Party of Oleh Liashko

22385

5093

78%

Opposition Bloc 

18927

4218

64%

People’s Front

15722

3541

54%

Samopomich Union 

9334

1999

32%

In addition to filling the seats in PECs with representatives of parliamentary parties under mandatory quota requirement, DECs also performed drawing of candidates for PECs members submitted by political parties that nominated their electoral lists and majoritarian MP candidates. In the case of absence of necessity of drawing lots, candidates nominated by these two entities were included in PECs subject to conformity with legislative requirements.

According to OPORA, “Servant of the People” has the largest representation in PECs formed for holding special elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine. This political force is represented in 82% of all PECs within the country. “Opposition Platform - For Life” (72%), AUU “Batkivshchyna” (64%), “European Solidarity” (46%) and AUU “Svoboda” (45%) also rank in the Top 5 in terms of the number of representatives in PECs.

Representation of political parties that nominated their MP candidates in nationwide constituency

Name of party

Total

% of PECs in which represented

“Servant of the People”

24424

82%

“Opposition Platform – For Life”

21429

72%

AUU “Batkivshchyna”

18965

64%

“European Solidarity”

13674

46%

AUU “Svoboda” 

13495

45%

“Syla i Chest”

9085

31%

Opposition Bloc

5753

19%

Agrarian Party of Ukraine

5091

17%

Radical Party of Oleh Liashko

4976

17%

Others

13624

 

OPORA collected information about PEC representatives of majoritarian MP candidates nominated by political parties. In terms of electoral subjects with the largest representation in PECs, the top 5 list of parties that nominated majoritarian MP candidates is similar to top 5 list of parties that registered their electoral lists in nationwide constituency (“Servant of the People”, “Opposition Platform - For Life”, AUU “Batkivshchyna”, AUU “Svoboda”, “European Solidarity”). Majoritarian MP candidates of “Servant of the People” have the largest number of representatives in PECs given the fact that this party nominated MP candidates in all single-member constituencies. Meanwhile, self-nominated MP candidates are represented by about 75,000 members of PECs throughout the country.

Representation of majoritarian MP candidates nominated by political parties in PECs

Name of party

Total number of PEC members

% of PECs in which represented

Majoritarian MP candidates of “Servant of the People”

22668

76%

Majoritarian MP candidates of “Opposition Platform – For Life”

13361

45%

Majoritarian MP candidates of AUU “Batkivshchyna”

10941

37%

Majoritarian MP candidates of AUU “Svoboda”

5910

20%

Majoritarian MP candidates of “European Solidarity”

5378

18%

Majoritarian MP candidates of “Opposition Bloc”

3373

11%

Majoritarian MP candidates of “Holos”

2136

7%

Majoritarian MP candidates of “Syla i Chest”

2032

7%

Majoritarian MP candidates of “Radical Party of Oleh Liashko”

1868

6%

Majoritarian MP candidates of all other parties combined

2776

 

Court Proceedings

Analysis of court decisions in cases related to electoral process (for the period from July 1 to July 15, 2019)

1. Cases on the inclusion of citizens in voter list

As of July 15, 2019, the courts published 24 decisions on the merits of cases (claims) on correction of voter lists, of which 14 claims were sustained and 10 were dismissed.

Two cases are interesting in terms of potential directions for further development of judicial practice. In the first case (No. 541/1495/19), the court adopted a decision on temporary change of voting place in respect of a citizen temporarily registered as an internally displaced person (this citizen was unable to appeal directly to the body responsible for maintenance of state register of voters). In the second case (No. 235/4520/19), the court ruled that the plaintiff enrolled on a voter  list in electoral precinct located in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine has the right to vote in the elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine, and therefore the plaintiff should be included in the updated version of voter list in electoral precinct located at the place of his current residence.

There is a continuing trend towards non-uniform application of laws when it comes to adoption of court decisions on cases related to inclusion of citizens with no registered place of residence in the voter list. For example, in cases No. 463/5606/19, No. 462/4493/19 (plaintiff filed a certificate of marriage with a person who has a registered address and owns an apartment according to document provided by housing maintenance office) and No. 489/3401/19 courts sustained the claims filed by citizens with no registered place of residence (court decisions do not contain references to any evidence of plaintiff’s actual place of residence) in view of violation of citizens’ constitutional right to participate in the elections. At the same time, in 7 cases the courts dismissed the claims filed by plaintiffs. In some cases, the court indicated the need to address to the body responsible for maintenance of homeless register.

Furthermore, courts sustain the claims filed by citizens who provide proof of their actual place of residence, on the grounds of which citizens ask for inclusion in voter list at the polling station located near their actual residence. Examples of proof of actual residence: housing maintenance office certificate (case No. 727/7356/19), declaration of cohabitation filed by a relative (case No. 592/10405/19), apartment lease contract (cases No. 537/2821/19, No. 465/3772/19, No. 465/3773/19).

Civil Network OPORA once again stresses the need for harmonization of judicial practice when it comes to consideration of cases on inclusion of citizens in voter list. Thus, according to Article 36 of the Law of Ukraine “On Judiciary and Status of Judges”, the Supreme Court is the highest court in the judicial system of Ukraine which shall ensure the sustainability and uniformity of judicial practice in the manner specified by procedural law. In particular, Supreme Court analyzes judicial statistics and generalizes case law.

According to the requirements specified in section 10 of Article 2 of the Law of Ukraine “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine”, it is recommended that court decisions on change of voting place and electoral precinct during parliamentary elections should expressly indicate citizen’s right to receive only one ballot paper for voting in nationwide constituency.

Courts also sustained claims filed by citizens who have a registered place of residence, but for various reasons weren’t included in preliminary versions of voter lists (4 cases: No. 752/13325/19, No. 127/19118/19, No.465/3856/19, No. 592/10447/19).

In the case No. 521/11370/19, the plaintiff who applied for temporary change of voting place petitioned the court to order the receipt of two ballot papers (for voting in nationwide and single-member constituencies) instead of just one. However, the court dismissed his claim.

2. Cases on the provision of information support for election process

The courts published 8 decisions relating to cases on the provision of information support for elections.

In the case No. 855/203/19 the court placed CEC under an obligation to remove information about party affiliation of two candidates representing AUU “Batkivshchyna” from the text of ballot paper. The CEC didn’t react to “Batkivshchyna” party’s complaint about the fact that the candidates registered in single-member constituencies No. 20 and No. 67 are not affiliated with this political force and were unlawfully indicated as such in the ballot papers due to the fact that AUU “Batkivshchyna” breached the time limits for filing this complaint. The court has established that the aforesaid candidates are not affiliated with “Batkivshchyna” party. According to the court, the fact that the ballot paper claims the opposite may result in misinforming the voters about the aforesaid candidates which, in turn, constitutes a violation of the principle of free expression of the will.

In the case No. 855/239/19, candidate S.Rybalka filed a complaint against CEC over the form and content of approved ballot paper. According to candidate-plaintiff, in a situation where clone candidates are participating in elections the CEC approved the form of ballot paper that does not include sequential numbers of candidates, and they can only be distinguished by date of birth. The Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Ukraine ruled that approval of the form and text of ballot paper falls within the discretionary powers of the CEC since there are no legislative requirements for enumerating the lines of information about MP candidates in the ballot paper. Consequently, the CEC decision to sort clone candidates by date of birth in ascending order was found legal.

Civil Network OPORA agrees with court’s arguments, but stresses the need for regulation of numbering issue at the legislative level.

In the case No. 855/246/19, candidate S.Tkachenko filed a complaint against CEC demanding the inclusion of information about his candidacy into the text of ballot paper for voting in single-member constituency No. 222. The court dismissed candidate’s claim due to its prematureness since the decision of Supreme Court that placed the CEC under an obligation to consider the matter of candidate registration has only just come into effect.

In the case No. 855/244/19, Agrarian Party of Ukraine filed a complaint against CEC demanding repeat drawing of lots with the participation of 22 parties. Plaintiff pointed to the fact that CEC included “Mykhailo Saakashvili’s Movement of New Forces” in the ballot paper under No.22 automatically, without drawing lots, in violation of current electoral law. According to the decision of Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal (hereinafter - SACA) as of July 4, 2019, the CEC is obliged to conduct a repeat drawing of lots. The court of first instance proceeded from the fact that the adoption of resolution and inclusion of political party in the ballot paper by way of adding is not provided for in electoral law. Inclusion of political party in the ballot paper as the last one on the list, without drawing lots, gives this party an obvious advantage over other parties and doesn’t ensure equal influence of cast votes on the election results. First instance decision was overruled by the Supreme Court of Ukraine (hereinafter - SCU). In its decision SCU emphasizes that under conditions of time-constrained electoral process any breach of time limits leads to violation of deadlines for conducting subsequent procedures which, in turn, may result in violation of the rights or legitimate interests of electoral subjects and the right of sovereign people to form a legislative body. By conducting repeat drawing of lots for the purpose of including a political party in ballot papers the CEC would exceed its authority and violate the law. According to SCU, inclusion of “Mykhailo Saakashvili’s Movement of New Forces” in the ballot papers as the last one on the list is proportionate to desired goal.

Case No. 855/271/19 is related to removal of information concerning the affiliation of candidate O.Petrovets with “Servant of the People” party from the ballot paper. The fact of candidate’s non-affiliation with the party was established during court hearings in another case (No. 855/220/19). As a result, the CEC decided to indicate non-party status of candidate in the ballot paper. In such circumstances, the CEC was acting in compliance with the decision of SACA and to avoid the risk of misinforming voters about candidate. In the case No. 855/272/19, candidate O.Petrovets filed a complaint against CEC due to the fact that CEC didn’t introduce any changes in the information about candidate’s position (occupation) as the project coordinator in NGO “Political Platform “Servant of the People”. The court of first instance dismissed this claim for the reason that the candidate filed an application for updating the information about his position (occupation) after approval of the form, color and text of the ballot paper. The court believes that the plaintiff was attempting to misinform the voters about his affiliation with “Servant of the People” party.

In the case No. 855/276/19, citizen R.Kuzmin filed a claim against CEC after his complaint about A.Parubiy’s public statements made during parliamentary session was left unaddressed. The court pointed to the fact that plaintiff’s registration as a candidate was canceled on July 5, 2019, and the CEC is not empowered to consider complaints against the actions of MPs and fulfillment of their obligations. Therefore, the decision of CEC to leave plaintiff's complaint unaddressed was found lawful.

It should be noted that the decision on case No. 640/9401/19 is yet to be adopted even though the District Administrative Court initiated proceedings in this case on inaction of CEC which manifested itself in non-adoption of clarification and recommendations on the provision of readily-accessible premises to be used as polling stations and creation of readily-accessible conditions for voters with disabilities. However, the decision on this case is yet to be published in the register. OPORA will track the process of consideration of this case, since accessibility of polling stations falls within the scope of monitoring.

3. Cases on the conduct of pre-election campaigning  

The courts published 9 decisions on cases that fall within this category.

In the case No. 200/8038/19-a, candidate A.Tur filed a complaint against candidate Yu.Solod over the content of political advertisement containing the following text: “Opposition Platform - For Life. Let’s restore relations with Russia and bring peace to Donbas region”. According to plaintiff, this advertisement calls for the abolition of Ukraine’s independence, change of constitutional order through violence, violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, undermining its security, unlawful seizure of state power, propaganda of war. Donetsk District Administrative Court and the First Administrative Court of Appeal referred to judicial practice of the Supreme Court (case No. 855/118/19) and dismissed the complaint due to the fact that controversial campaign materials of candidate Yu.Solod were yet to be received by CEC at the time of filing of complaint with the court of first instance, the deadline for sending campaign materials to CEC didn’t expire. In court’s opinion, assessment of campaign materials falls within the authority of CEC and can be exercised only on the results of consideration of corresponding issue.

In the case No. 620/1936/19, plaintiff complained against candidate’s actions related to placement of social advertisement which called for providing healthcare centers with free medication and contained a photo of a person who looked like MP candidate as well as a symbol in the form of a checkmark. Chernihiv district administrative court pointed to the fact that depicted billboards can’t be regarded as pre-election campaigning, because the plaintiff didn’t provide proof that these billboards induce citizens to vote for defendant. Complaint was dismissed.

Case No. 200/8435/19-a on declaring illegal the actions related to publication of campaign materials in printed media “Business Kramatorsk” financed from sources other than the election fund. The court dismissed the claim. In this case, the court pointed to the fact that defendant-candidate didn’t order, utilize, give approval or pay for these campaign materials.

In the case No. 160/6215/19, the courts sustained a claim against placement of printed campaign materials with no source data. The Court of Appeal concluded that political advertising of candidate also serves as political advertising of “Servant of the People” party to a certain extent since this candidate was nominated by “Servant of the People” and utilizes the party name and branding in his election campaign.

In the case No. 620/1975/19, “Servant of the People” party filed a complaint against mayor of Chernihiv city and demanded to rule as illegal the actions of city mayor related to conduct of public campaign in support of one of MP candidates at the communal enterprise during working hours (single-member constituency No. 205). The court dismissed this complaint due to the fact that it is impossible to establish the authenticity of city mayor’s statements that were published on “Facebook” (this publication indicates that city mayor made a public assessment of MP candidate’s activities and expressed his hope that city residents will elect the aforesaid candidate in single-member constituency No.205). It should also be noted that city mayor was on vacation on that day. In a similar case No. 620/1986/19, candidate filed a complaint against head of Chernihiv city council in connection with public campaigning for MP candidate during working hours at the premises of communal enterprise “Chernihiv oblast hospital” located in single-member constituency No.205. This complaint was also dismissed by court due to the fact that city mayor was on vacation.

In the case No. 360/2952/19, the courts dismissed a complaint filed by O.Liashko against one of the members of DEC No.105 in connection with alleged gross violation of the law that bans members of election commissions from conducting political agitation and disseminating knowingly false or defamatory information about electoral subjects (member of DEC posted a video address of one of the candidates to his personal page on “Facebook”). The courts established that the actions of defendant with regard to reposting (publishing) the information to his page on Facebook, which is not an electronic medium, can’t be interpreted as distribution of campaign materials among friends or unlimited number of other people. Furthermore, the court pointed to the fact that member of DEC didn’t post any comments or statements about this video to his page on Facebook.

In the case number 360/2990/19, the court of first instance dismissed the claim with regard to declaring illegal and obliging to stop production and distribution of printed campaign materials. Plaintiff-candidate indicated that the postcard produced by defendant-candidate contains seven so-called facts about plaintiff, but these facts are false and carry a negative connotation. The court ruled that the controversial postcard is not a campaign material, it doesn’t contain mandatory information, and there is no evidence that defendant is the one who ordered production of these materials.

In the case No. 580/2258/19, the court dismissed a complaint about payments to private individuals for performing the duties of official observers through NGO “Democratic Platform”. Plaintiff claimed that civil law contract concluded between NGO and official observer on a paid-for basis is evidence of bribery of voters. The court established that the law on elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine does not oblige official observers to perform statutory functions on a gratuitous basis since it doesn’t impose any legal restrictions on official observers with regard to discharge of their duties on a fee basis, nor does it prohibit the conclusion of contracts or effecting of payments by customer who in this case is represented by non-governmental organization. Conclusion of civil law contract between non-governmental organization and private individual does not constitute a violation of legal requirements and can’t be interpreted as direct or indirect bribery of voters.

4. Cases on registration of candidates 

During the period from July 1 to July 17, 2019, the courts have considered 41 cases on complaints against denial or cancelation of registration of candidates:

  1. The courts invalidated the CEC decisions on refusal to register candidates in cases where the CEC demonstrated excessive formalism in the process of consideration of candidates’ documents. In particular, in the case No.855/183/19, candidate appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. In its statement of reasons for denial of registration, the CEC pointed to the fact that the autobiography submitted by S.Kyrychenko didn’t contain any information about his position (occupation) and place of work. Based on the decision of Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal (hereinafter - SACA) as of June 27, 2019, (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82683906), potential candidate’s claim was dismissed. The Administrative Court of Cassation within the Supreme Court (hereinafter - SCU) ( http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82715134#) overruled the decision of the court of first instance, the refusal of CEC to register MP candidate was interpreted as demonstration of excessive formalism when accepting documents. In the case No. 855/209/19, potential MP candidate A.Bondar appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82707033), potential candidate’s claim was sustained and the CEC was placed under an obligation to re-examine the documents. Appellate instance upheld the ruling of first instance court. This dispute arose in connection with alleged non-compliance with legal requirements for candidate’s autobiography due to the absence of information about candidate’s birth surname and the date of name change. In the case No. 855/213/19, potential MP candidate Ye.Hirnyk appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82706917), potential candidate’s claim was dismissed. SACA’s decision was overruled by SCU (http: //www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82758738#) and the CEC was obliged to register MP candidate. This dispute arose in connection with alleged non-compliance with legal requirements for candidate’s autobiography due to the absence of information about candidate’s citizenship, including the period of residence in Ukraine, party affiliation and contact phone number. In cases No. 855/222/19, No. 855/223/19, potential MP candidates A.M. Davydenko and A.M. Davydenko appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. Based on SACA’s decisions (Http://www.reyestr.court.gov .ua / Review / 82707631), (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82716159), the claim was sustained and the CEC was obliged to register MP candidates. SACA’s decision was upheld by the SCU. This dispute arose in connection with alleged non-compliance with legal requirements for candidate’s autobiography due to the absence of clear and accurate information about given name (all given names), absence of contact phone number. In the case No. 855/198/19, potential MP candidate V.Tsvil appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82706897), potential candidate’s claim was dismissed. However, the decision of Administrative Court of Cassation within the Supreme Court as of July 2, 2019 (http://www.reyestr.court.gov .ua / Review / 82792262 #) overruled the decision of the court of first instance and obliged the CEC to register MP candidate. This dispute arose in connection with alleged non-compliance with legal requirements for candidate’s autobiography. In cases No. 855/225/19, No. 855/226/19, potential MP candidates V.Dzhulai and D.Kolesnyk appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. This claim was sustained and the CEC was obliged to register MP candidates. SCU upheld the decision of first instance court. This dispute arose in connection with alleged non-compliance with legal requirements for self-nomination application due to incorrect indication of the date and failure to indicate the No. of single-member constituency. In the case No. 855/204/19, potential MP candidate N.Ostrovsky appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82707055), potential candidate’s claim was dismissed. However, the decision of Administrative Court of Cassation within the Supreme Court as of July 2, 2019 (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82792028#) overruled the decision of the court of first instance and obliged the CEC to register MP candidate. This dispute arose in connection with alleged non-compliance with legal requirements for self-nomination application. In the case No. 855/207/19, potential MP candidate V.Kolbun appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82706949), candidate’s claim was partially satisfied and the CEC was placed under an obligation to re-examine registration documents. The Supreme Court (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82792076#) upheld first instance court’s decision, but introduced changes in its statement of reasons. This dispute arose in connection with alleged non-compliance with legal requirements for candidate’s autobiography due to the absence of information about party affiliation, position (occupation), place of work, community service (including community work in elective office). In the case No. 855/196/19, potential MP candidate S.Tkachenko appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82706958), candidate’s claim was sustained. The Supreme Court (http: // www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82792092#) overruled the decision of first instance court insofar as it refers to CEC’s obligation to re-examine registration documents and placed the CEC under an obligation to register MP candidate. This dispute arose in connection with alleged non-compliance with legal requirements for self-nomination application due to the absence of commitment to relinquish representative powers (mandate). In its statement of reasons, Supreme Court referred to ECHR’s decision on the case “Hurepka versus Ukraine” stating that judicial remedy should be independent of any discretionary actions of public authorities and accessible to those concerned in order to be effective. Therefore, the court should place the defendant under an obligation to register MP candidate instead of obliging the CEC to re-examine same registration documents.
  2. At the same time, the courts upheld the decisions on cancelation of registration in cases where MP candidates submitted false information. In the case No. 855/229/19, candidate A.Bilytsky appealed against CEC decision on cancelation of registration  due to indication of false information about candidate’s advocacy activity in autobiography. Based on SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82759303), candidate’s claim was dismissed. The Supreme Court (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82858410#) upheld the decision of first instance court.
  3. Court proceedings in the cases on denial or cancellation of registration due to the fact that candidates didn’t reside in Ukraine over the last 5 years were the most notable ones. In the case No. 855/184/19, potential MP candidate V.Saldo appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82683935), potential candidate’s claim was sustained. However, the Supreme Court (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82714876#) overruled the decision of first instance court. This dispute arose in connection with candidate’s non-compliance with legal requirement for  residence on the territory of Ukraine over the last 5 years.
  4. In the case No. 855/189/19, potential MP candidates A.Shariy and Ye.Yevtukhov appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration of candidates in nationwide constituency. According to SACA’s decision as of June 27, 2019 (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82683662), the claim was sustained and the CEC was obliged to re-examine registration documents of potential MP candidates. The ruling of Supreme Court of Ukraine as of July 1, 2019, (http : //www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82758870#) upheld the decision of first instance court. This dispute arose in connection with alleged non-compliance with legal requirement for  residence on the territory of Ukraine over the last 5 years. The CEC abided by the court’s decision and registered the aforesaid candidates. On July 3, 2019, the CEC canceled the registration of candidate A. Shariy. In the case No. 855/268/19 (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/83024783), the circumstances of non-compliance with legal requirement for residence on the territory of Ukraine over the last 5 years are evidenced by the letter No. 99/405 received from Security Service of Ukraine and information provided by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. According to the court, these circumstances are supported by proper, eligible and undisputed evidence. Furthermore, the panel of judges pointed to the fact that neither the plaintiff nor his authorized representative provided the CEC or the court with evidence of plaintiff’s refugee status. SCU dismissed the appeal claim and noted that the defendant (CEC) should aim to strike a balance between the rights of voters and the rights of a person willing to take advantage of passive suffrage when adopting its decisions. The person who wishes to be registered as MP candidate should also assume the obligation to prove his / her compliance with local residence requirement.
  5. In the case No. 855/190/19, potential MP candidate M.Feldman appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82683611), the claim was sustained and the CEC was obliged to register MP candidate.  However, the Supreme Court (http: // www .reyestr.court.gov.ua / Review / 82716410 #) overruled the decision of first instance court. This dispute arose in connection with candidates’ non-compliance with legal requirement for  residence on the territory of Ukraine over the last 5 years. In adopting its decision, the Supreme Court took due account of the fact that first instance court was provided with evidence that weren’t submitted to the CEC at the stage of making a decision on registration of MP candidate. SCU also noted that the plaintiff had the opportunity to submit these documents to the CEC in order prove his compliance with local residence requirement.
  6. In the case No. 855/212/19, potential MP candidate V. Potapovych appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82706939), potential candidate’s claim was dismissed. However, the Supreme Court (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82792102#) overruled the decision of first instance court and obliged the CEC to register MP candidate. This dispute arose in connection with alleged non-compliance with legal requirements for candidate’s autobiography due to the absence of information about candidate’s citizenship, including the period of residence in Ukraine.
  7. In the case No. 855/215/19, MP candidate S.Katsuba appealed against CEC decision on cancelation of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82707628), candidate’s claim was dismissed. The Supreme Court (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82857290#) upheld the decision of first instance court. This dispute arose in connection with candidates’ non-compliance with legal requirement for residence on the territory of Ukraine over the last 5 years.
  8. In the case No. 855/252/19, MP candidate A.Klyuyev appealed against CEC decision on cancelation of registration. According to SACA’s decision as of July 5, 2019, (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82857824) candidate’s claim was dismissed. The decision of Administrative Court of Cassation within the Supreme Court as of July 9, 2019, (http: // www. reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82898667) upheld the decision of first instance court. This dispute arose in connection with candidates’ non-compliance with legal requirement for residence on the territory of Ukraine over the last 5 years.
  9. In the case No. 855/224/19, MP candidate O.Onishchenko appealed against CEC decision on cancelation of registration. According to SACA’s decision as of July 2, 2019, (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82758228) candidate’s claim was dismissed. The decision of Administrative Court of Cassation within the Supreme Court as of July 5, 2019, (http: // www. reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82857326) upheld the decision of first instance court. This dispute arose in connection with candidates’ non-compliance with legal requirement for residence on the territory of Ukraine over the last 5 years. On July 17, the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal resumed consideration of the case due to newly discovered circumstances and adopted a decision on registration of MP candidate. By newly discovered circumstances SACA means the decision of Pechersk court as of July 12, 2019, on the establishment of the fact that O.Onishchenko was attending the riding school. The CEC will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court.
  10. In the case No. 855/195/19, potential MP candidate V.Serdyuk appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82683689), potential candidate’s claim was dismissed. Administrative Court of Cassation upheld the decision of first instance court (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82758897#). This dispute arose in connection with potential candidate’s failure to pay the election deposit.
  11. In cases No. 855/210/19 and No. 855/211/19, potential MP candidates M.Bagrova and R.Kuzmin appealed against CEC decision on denial of registration. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82706957)(http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82706981), the claim was dismissed. The Supreme Court upheld the decision of first instance court. These disputes arose in connection with non-compliance with legal requirements for candidate’s autobiography and failure to pay the election deposit.
  12. In cases No. 855/191/19 (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82715131#) and No.855/221/19 (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua) / Review / 82819622), plaintiff appealed against CEC decision on registration of clone candidates. This dispute arose in connection with CEC decision on registration of several persons with identical names as MP candidates. According to the courts, plaintiff’s reference to the fact that registration of persons with identical names as MP candidates constitutes a violation of his right to be elected and creates a high risk of misleading his potential voters has no lawful basis, since registration of candidates with identical names, surnames and patronymic names is not prohibited by electoral law of Ukraine.
  13. In cases No. 855/219/19 (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82819614#) and No. 855/220/19 (http://www.reyestr.court.gov. ua / Review / 82819915), plaintiff appealed against CEC resolution No.1172 as of June 23, 2019, in connection with indication of inaccurate information about candidate’s affiliation with “Servant of the People” party. SACA adopted a decision on recognizing the inaction of the CEC and its failure to take due account of the information provided by political party when approving the text of ballot papers. The CEC was placed under an obligation to introduce corresponding changes in ballot papers. SCU upheld the decisions of first instance court.
  14. In the case No. 855/288/19, plaintiff appealed against CEC resolution on cancelation of registration of candidate O.Kunytsky in response to complaint filed by candidate O. Petrichenko. According to SACA’s decision (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/83024112), the claim was partially satisfied insofar as it relates to invalidation of unlawful resolution of the CEC. SCU decision as of July 18, 2019, upheld the decision of first instance court. The complaint filed by MP candidate O.Petrichenko on July 9, 2019, should have been left unattended by the CEC due to the fact that this complaint contests the actions of the CEC relating to registration and non-compliance with the deadlines, rather than the actions of MP candidate. The CEC considered the complaint on the merits and adopted a resulting resolution without substantiating the conclusion on compliance with the deadlines.
  15. In the case No. 855/270/19 (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/83042242, http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/82994771) on cancellation of registration of candidate Renat Kuzmin, SACA and SCU concluded that the CEC is obliged to check MP candidate for conformity with nomination requirements. For this purpose, the CEC was vested with authority to demand and collect information from various sources in compliance with the law of Ukraine as well as perform legal assessment of collected information in order to ensure impartiality and validity of adopted decisions. CEC resolution No. 1496 is based on the letter No. 99/410 as of July 4, 2019, which was provided by Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) on the instructions of investigator of Prosecutor General’s Office. However, appellate court established  that operational officers of SSU weren’t instructed to conduct investigative actions with respect to Renat Kuzmin. Furthermore, the CEC didn’t make an assessment of documents on Renat Kuzmin that were provided by plaintiff. Thus, the court arrived at the conclusion that CEC resolution No. 1496 is unlawful and there are reasonable grounds for invalidation thereof. At the same time, SCU didn’t agree with SACA’s conclusion on recognition of unlawful acts of the CEC.

5. Criminal cases

In the case No. 621/1728/19, the court satisfied a complaint against the inaction of police officers who didn’t enter the information about criminal offense into Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations (URPTI) after receiving a crime incident report. In this case, on June 21, 2019, the chairman of DEC No.181 filed a report of collusive crime committed by an organized group of persons, namely: a citizen in collaboration with certain members of the aforesaid DEC disrupted two DEC meetings scheduled for 15.06.2019 and 19.06.2019; members of election commission refused to fulfill their obligations which resulted in sabotage of DEC activities. Similarly, in the case No. 642/4710/19, the court instructed the authorized persons of police department to enter information on criminal offense covered by section 1 of Article 157 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine into URPTI at the request of a citizen.

In the case No. 357/7321/19, the court granted permission for subpoena of a witness in a criminal proceeding (in the city of Bila Tserkva, Kyiv oblast, a citizen established an LLC “Servant of the People - Bila Tserkva” and appointed himself as director of this company. He is making use of billboards and graphic elements that are similar to official branding of “Servant of the People” party).

In the case No. 576/1382/19, the court granted investigator’s request for conducting expert examination (candidate V. Andrukha, who is registered in single-member constituency No. 159, indicated PE “Servant of the People” as his place of work. On June 26, 2019, campaign leaflets with information about candidate V. Andrukh as a representative of “SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE” party were detected and seized near the public transport stop in the village of Zemlyanka (Konotop rayon). The seized leaflets contain output and circulation information).

6.  Cases on the imposition of administrative sanctions (Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses - CUAO)

In the reporting period, the courts published 126 decisions on cases that fall within this category. The number of published decisions is constantly increasing as they are gradually entered into the register. It is characteristic that in the reporting period the courts were adopting decisions on the basis of administrative proceedings that were initiated during presidential election.

According to register, the courts adopted decisions on cases falling within the scope of Article 212-7 of CUAO (1 case), Article 212-10 of CUAO (10 cases), Article 212-13 of CUAO (95 cases), and Article 212-14 of CUAO (20 cases).

Case No. 598/721/19 falls within the scope of section 1 of Article 222-7 of CUAO (violation of the procedure for maintenance of State Register of Voters). In this case, a specialist of the body responsible for maintenance of State Register of Voters in Vyshnivets township council (Zbarazh rayon, Ternopil oblast) was held administratively liable for failing to enter information about changes in voter’s place of residence, which constitutes a violation of clause 2 and clause 12 of Article 22 of the Law of Ukraine “On the State Register of Voters”.

2 cases falling within the scope of Article 212-10 of CUAO (violation of restrictions imposed on pre-election campaigning) were transferred to other courts for proper consideration (at the location of administrative offence in accordance with section 1 of Article 276 of CUAO); proceedings in three cases were ceased due to expiration of deadlines for imposing administrative sanctions; 3 cases were transferred to police departments for proper execution thereof (substantiation of administrative violation is missing from the protocols in cases No. 740/3207/19 and No. 552/2764/19, classification of violation is absent in the case No. 753/13364/19). In the case No. 658/2778/19, a person was held administratively liable for campaigning at his own expense during the period from June 12 to June 23, 2019, prior to registration of MP candidate (placement of campaign posters containing candidate’s photo with the inscription “Filipchuk – the only candidate” on billboards in Kakhovka).

A total of 95 decisions on cases falling within the scope of Article 212-13 of CUAO (distribution of campaign materials with no source data) were published in the register.

Violators were held administratively liable and fines were imposed in 31 cases. In 6 other cases, violators were also held administratively liable, but received only a verbal warning. In particular, in the case No. 748/1690/19, a female violator was exempted from administrative liability due to insignificance of committed offense. She excused herself by saying that the information about customer of campaign material was present at the time of placement of material on the advertising media. She sent a photo report to the customer as a proof, but apparently part of campaign material got unglued during the hurricane that swept through the local area. In another case, a citizen distributed printed campaign materials in support of “Radical Party of Oleh Liashko”, but he didn’t notice that the party newspaper doesn’t contain mandatory information in accordance with electoral law. Therefore, he violated the law unintentionally and, as a result, received only a verbal warning.

The proceedings in 3 cases of administrative offense were ceased due to expiration of the deadline for imposing administrative sanctions. A large number of cases falling within this category (46 cases or 48% of all cases covered by Article 212-13 of CUAO) were returned for additional investigation (proper execution) to police departments due to improper execution of protocols on administrative offense. In particular, in the case No. 404/4637/19, a photo of the table was attached to the protocol without proper geo referencing, which made it impossible to determine the place of location of outdoor advertising media. In the case No. 404/4639/19, case materials didn’t include any documents which could confirm that the outdoor advertising media listed in the protocol are actually owned or utilized by LLC “Ukrreklama” and that this company performs activities related to distribution of advertising materials.

In 9 cases, the proceedings were ceased due to the absence of the event of administrative offense. In particular, in the case No. 569/8185/19, the activist of “Vidsich” organization wasn’t held administratively liable for distribution of leaflets with no source data during presidential election; in the case No. 592/9988/19 - the proceedings were ceased due to the fact that violator obtained the status of electoral subject-MP candidate on June 19, 2019, while the placement of campaign material on billboard took place on June 3, 2019; in the case No.598/1173/19 – the court took due account of the fact that ad banner didn’t contain any information related to election campaign, while the depicted person is the head of Vyshnivets united territorial community, which is indicated on the banner. Therefore, the court arrived at the conclusion on the absence of the event of administrative offence; in the case No. 362/3941/19, the court pointed to the fact that the billboard with the photo of Larysa Ilienko and the inscription “Caring for all people. “Charitable Foundation of Larysa Ilienko “Kyiv Rus” doesn’t contain any campaign materials since it doesn’t encourage citizens to vote for or refrain from voting for a certain MP candidate or party-electoral subject.

The courts considered 20 cases that fall within the scope of Article 212-14 of CUAO (violation of the procedure for placing campaign materials (political ads) or placement of campaign materials in prohibited places), in particular: in 7 cases, administrative sanction in the form of a fine was imposed on guilty person; in 4 cases, the person was convicted and exempted from administrative liability and received only a verbal warning due to insignificance of committed violation; in 3 cases, the proceedings were ceased due to the absence of the event of administrative offense; in one case, the proceedings were ceased due to expiration of deadlines for imposing administrative sanctions; in 5 cases, case materials were returned to the police authorities for proper execution (elimination of shortcomings, such as reference to incorrect article of electoral law – case No. 727/7194/19; incorrect classification of violation - case No. 367/4898/19; absence of description of the place of violation, absence of substantiation of administrative violation - case No. 542/828/19; absence of information about prosecuted person – case No. 127/5437/19; case materials do not include the corresponding decision of local self-government body concerning the list of places allowed for placing campaign materials – case No. 361/5040/19).

Recommendations

To the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine:

  • Ensure introduction of amendments in electoral law with aim of regulating the procedure for financing, accounting and reporting on electoral subject’s expenditures for pre-election campaigning with the use of online resources
  • Facilitate the adoption of draft law No. 8270 on ensuring the inevitability of punishment for electoral crimes in order to enhance the ability to counteract abusive practices during the elections.

To the Central Election Commission:

  • Enhance control over electoral subjects in the matter of compliance with legal provisions on campaign finance and ensure proper provision of information to the public concerning observance of the procedure for financing the election campaigns by parties and candidates. 

To the National Police of Ukraine:

  • Ensure compliance with the prohibition to conduct pre-election campaigning in breach of the time limits prescribed by Law (on the eve of Election Day and on the Election Day itself), including by way of prompt response to cases of anti-agitation
  • Give due attention to investigation of cases of direct and indirect bribery of voters as well as cases of manipulative deception and interference with citizens’ voting rights by means of illegal use of party brands.