On 15 June 2016, a group of unidentified individuals used the force to restrict two OPORA's officially registered observers from entering a communal enterprise City Palace of Culture when self-nominated candidate Maksym Mykytas (SMD #206) was holding a campaigning event there. There were around 500 voters attending the event.

Thus, unidentified individuals used force to block the entrance for official observers who were fulfilling their duties, where the candidate held a meeting with the voters and where campaign materials were disseminated.

Besides that, they tried to knock a tablet out of observer's hands (owned by the observer) and used illegal measures to restrain observers from fulfilling their duties.

OPORA considers such actions as a crime (Article 157 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, restriction to activities of an observer), which requires prompt response of law-enforcement bodies.

Thus, law enforcement bodes have initiated criminal proceeding based on appeals from OPORA's representatives.

OPORA would like to mention, however, that the operational-investigative group of Chernihiv Police Department of the Main National Police Headquarters in Chernihiv oblast were not active enough during the incident. As a result, a large edition of printed campaign materials was removed from the site by organizers despite these materials were produced in violation of the Law on Elections of People's Deputies of Ukraine. Patrol police officers present on the site, for their part, were actively working to detect and record any violations.

This group of individuals on campaigning event of Maksym Mykytas has also acted against international standards for participation of domestic observers in election process. Thus, according to the Venice Commission's Guiding Principles for Elections, observation is held not only on the election day, but also during registration of candidates and voters, if there is such a need, as well as during the election campaign. In such a way, the observation gives a chance to determine whether there were any violations during the election process or after it (paragraph 3.2 of the Guiding Principles). These international standards were grossly violated in this incident. Besides that, the Law of Ukraine on Elections of People's Deputies of Ukraine was also violated, which provides that the election process shall be public and open.

OPORA's observers have also detected other violations on Maksym Mykytas's campaigning event.

For example,

  • a lease agreement for the hall rented to conduct the campaigning event in favor of Maksym Mykytas was concluded between the communal enterprise and a physical person, but not paid from electoral fund account of the candidate.
  • Besides that, printed campaign materials, which were disseminated on the event, didn't contain information requested by the law (about customer, printing house, individuals in charge of the issue, and number of printed copies).

Violation of campaign financing and production of campaign materials requirements of the Law of Ukraine on Elections of People's Deputies of Ukraine may result in false financial reports by candidates or managers of the electoral funds, what is a criminal offense under Article 159-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

OPORA expects efficient law-enforcement investigation of obstruction to activities of official observers and other detected violations. We emphasize that the candidates will get a motivation to obstruct legitimate activities of official observers and the course of election process, if there are no investigation results.

OPORA draws attention of candidates and other electoral subjects to the fact that any activities violating the principles of electoral law are inadmissible. Official observers will continue responding to the violations. 

SMD #206: The unknown restrained OPORA's observers from recording the violations on campaigning event of Maksym Mykytas