Posts Tagged ‘elections 2014’


A brief Post Mortem – Odessa

October 29, 2014

As election results start to be declared, there will be those who may be somewhat surprised by some results from certain regions of Ukraine – we can look to Kharkiv and Odessa for some that may, prima facie, make us ponder.

As it seems Kharkiv has returned 13 ex-Regionaires from 14 single mandate seats, and 8 from 11 in Odessa – notwithstanding the proportional vote percentages which present a different picture for Odessa, if not for Kharkiv, there is a perhaps enough interest to look a little further as to why this is.

It also has to be said that despite any superficial similarities, Odessa and Kharkiv are two distinctly separate regions and cities, with political, economic and social drivers that may apply for one city, but are not necessarily the same for the other.  Proximity to, and trade dependence upon Russia will have a varying impact for example.

Firstly, single mandate (first past the post) seats have always seen the most nefarious of election campaigning – and no doubt will continue to be so – as stated at every meeting with every election monitor, be they OSCE, NGO, politician or diplomat over the years.

Secondly, it needs to be recognised that not all former Party Regions MPs were bad, or at least were any worse than some in other parties, despite some poor legislative decisions they supported – sometimes, for some of them, under duress.

Thirdly, whilst Odessa and Kharkiv have proven themselves pro-Ukrainian unity, Russian speaking cities, that doesn’t make them anti-Russia or anti-Regions.  It is more a case of anti-Kremlin/Putin and anti Yanukovych and “Family”.  Most ex-Regionaires are not seen as being directly associated with The Kremlin or Mr Putin (thought some certainly are) or uncomfortably close to Yanukovych and “family” (though again some certainly are).  Many have made very deliberate (if possibly fake in some cases, unconvincing in others) attempts to prove their loyalty to Ukraine.

As tweeted:

Thus, it may well prove to be a mistake to frame these election results as anything other than a vote for internal reform.  It is necessary to be blunt.  The path ahead is more than challenging – it is daunting.  The first 100 days will need to see real headline reform delivered and be seen to be implemented.  If not, then trouble likely lies ahead.  This election was about reform and delivery of reform – not a compass point – whatever hyperbole and misguided rhetoric may be spouted by the media.

Next, it was completely unrealistic to expect a RADA free of ex-Regionaires.  The laws under which this election took place were the laws introduced under former President Yanukovych and are therefore somewhat “malleable”.  Ex-Regionaires also now sit within other parties.  Their complete irradiation from parliament was always nothing but fanciful – and also dangerous when considering eastern representation.

However, a new RADA would be very wise to make one of its first votes the passing of the pending electoral laws that were deliberately stalled right up until this election by the old RADA.  It would be wise to pass them immediately – as there is no guarantee that this new RADA will last a full term.

Anyway, returning to the post mortem of the single mandate seats.

One of reason the ex-Regionaires did (and were expected to do) well in the single mandate seats, is that those candidates from parties running against ex-Regionaires failed to organise themselves with the goal of defeating the ex-Regionaire.  When such a strategy eventually dawned on some, it was perhaps too little too late with only two weeks before the election to go.

Even after such a strategy eventually dawned, there was then the issue of effectively delivering a candidate field narrow enough to deliver a realistic chance of victory.  Some candidates were convinced to stand down – others weren’t.  Money had already been spent on campaigns.

As an example, simply because it is the district within which this blog is situated – District 135 – Odessa Primorsky.

In District 135 Odessa ran the notorious Sergei Kivalov, ex-Regionaire, friend, ally and fully-fledged functionary of former President Yanukovych.  Mr Kivalov owns several television stations, newspapers and media outlets, as well as building several universities where he is honorary Dean, a few churches and various other philanthropic acts, running into the many $ tens of millions over the years, with a small part of a dubiously earned personal fortune.  Needless to say a grateful church and easily pressured students provide a very large campaign force, notwithstanding his media entities being heavily biased to Mr Kivalov’s campaign to the exclusion of others.

Whilst several of the pending electoral infringements relate to Mr Kivalov’s campaign, he will win this single mandate.  After all, any infringements proven may only be capable of being tied to Mr Kivalov’s campaign manager or staff, rather than Mr Kivalov himself.   Plausible deniability may well be enough to be reasonable doubt in a court when considered in the context of a busy campaign schedule he doesn’t set himself.

Thus name recognition, a heavy and biased media presence, misuse of institutional/administrative resources, voter bribery etc., all add to those who, via his philanthropic efforts over the years in the city, consider him, if not perfect, better than somebody they know little about.

But could he have been defeated?  Certainly.  As a district, the majority of District 135 voted Block Poroshenko in the proportional representation vote.  Indeed 6 from 11 Odessa districts did – despite the very likely returning 8 from 11 former Regionaires as vote counts currently stand.

Running against Sergei Kivalov was the popular Mr Rondin – as an independent.  Mr Rondin could and perhaps should have been the Block Poroshenko candidate (and would have picked up some form of electoral bump from doing so).  Mr Rondin, however, chose to run as an independent, thus Block Poroshenko chose Mr Naumchak, a fairly decent man, but not as popular as Mr Rondin.  These two, along with a technical candidate (a candidate deliberately entered to split a vote) in this case Mr Selyanin, insured that those voters looking for somebody to vote for other than Sergei Kivalov had their collective power diversified by both poor strategy, as well as by deliberate design.

Thus, in sum, in single mandate seats in traditionally “Regions” regions, there was simply not the planning that went into the presidential election with regards focused choices for the voter – not withstanding the opportunities for more conspiratorial nefarious acts.

A consideration should also be made regarding campaign funding.  Whether single mandate ex-Regionaire candidates ran as “independents” or Opposition Block, it is likely that old sponsors made considerable funds available.  It is also likely that some, if not all, ex-Regionaire independent candidates will join the Opposition Block after the RADA is sworn in, or at the very least vote in concert with the Opposition Block far more often than not.  The practiced and deft manipulation skills of ex-Regions puppet master Sergei Levochkin should not be underestimated – especially with the gas lobby money and a tacit nod of approval from other ex-Regionaire oligarchy behind him.

Thereafter consider many such candidates are also major employers/senior position holders within/closely associated with the owners thereof.  The inference that an unsuccessful campaign on their behalf may result in unemployment can weigh heavily upon the workforce.  (An inference multiplied in a city like Kharkiv which trades quite extensively with Russia.)

Further, Ukrainian voters, almost without fail, return a local for a local seat.  Parachute candidates, regardless of calibre, are extremely rare victors.  That puts de facto parameters on quality candidature for a local single mandate seat.

Perhaps most importantly, there is then the voter themselves – and here are to be found national commonalities.

There are those who simply are too lazy to vote, or who see the electoral system unchanged and therefore don’t see a significantly different result being delivered.  Something akin to the thinking, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein.  Without the votes cast demographic statistics, and thus being able to drill down into the numbers to conifrm, it would be little surprise to find that far more women and elderly voted, than young men who were eligible.

Further, and at the risk of stereotyping, there are those voters who will vote for the infamous “buckwheat bribe”.  The bag of food stuffs given out in return for votes.  As a pensioner with little else, and a pension that is far beyond inadequate even for rudimentary living, there is an obvious attraction to free food.  Also within this bribe taking category are also those who will vote for a candidate who provides a new playground outside their apartment block, or newly laid road surface etc.  These, in short, whatever their reasons and motivation, will take what they can now, in the full knowledge far more will be stolen from them by the candidate they vote for via misappropriated budgets and thus absent but necessary public goods and social services once they reach office.  Unfortunately, there are a great many such voters for one reason or another.

These voters too, are the main reason single mandate seats are so nefarious in their campaigning.  The single mandate candidates know very well the size of this constituency, and the fact that other than bribes, they have absolutely nothing else to offer these voters by way of deliverable political promises.

There is then the “party faithful” or “ideological” voter – despite only the extreme parties left and right having anything like an identifiable political ideology – and neither far left nor far right have done at all well in this election.

These are the voters who will always vote for party “x” or the candidates of party “x”, without necessarily having a clue about what is contained in the party manifesto of party “x” – if it has a manifesto.  They are instantly dismissive of all other parties, and their candidates.  No different to die-hard Republicans or Democrats, Tories or Labourites.   Thus any candidate associated with their party (even historically) automatically and without question, gets their vote.

Lastly, there is then the considered voter.  Those that have read the manifestos, listened to the debates and understood the direction being offered (even if a strategy to achieve goals is never forthcoming).  This voter may even contribute to the campaign of a party or associated candidate after due deliberation over who best will serve the country in pursuit of the goals they also agree with.  This sadly remains by far the smallest voting Ukrainian segment – currently at least.

Should Ukraine ever embody those ideals many now chase, theoretically the buckwheat voters will diminish and the considered voters increase.  (There’s not much that can be done with the partisan die-hards in any nation).

This is naturally not an exhaustive list of reasons and influences as to why a pro-Ukraine, Russian speaking region like Odessa still returns so many ex-Regionaires from single mandate electoral seats – it is no attempt to be a sociological or political essay with any depth –  it is nothing more than a blog entry that takes 10 minutes to write  – but within the mix, all the aforementioned issues – empirically – play a part.

Simply put, notwithstanding the clever social and political science that may be delivered in due course by the academic community, those that are surprised by such results, perhaps shouldn’t be.


Whilst counting continues – Odessa projections

October 28, 2014

Although counting continues and official winners are yet to be named, the expected outcomes of the elections as far as Odessa is concerned seems likely to produce the following results:

District 133 (Kiev district of Odessa) – Edward Matviichuk

District 134 (Malinovsky district of Odessa)  – Gennady Chekita

District 135 District (Primorsky district of Odessa) – Sergei Kivalov – legal challenges possible

District 136)  (Suvorov) –  Dmitri Golubova

District 137 (Hincheshti) – Leonid Klimov

District 138 (Shiryaevo)  – Ivan Fursin

District 139 (Rasdelniya) – Alexander Presman

District 140 – Counting has stopped – legal challenges likely – Predict David Zhvania

District 141 (Tatarbunary) – Vitaly Barvinenko

District 142 (Artsiz) – Anton Cisse

District 143 (Izmael) – Alexander Urbansky


From the party lists, based upon the projected percentages:

Igor Palitsa, Alexey Goncharenko, Sergei Faermark, Pavel Unguryan, Mykola Skorik – Possibly Andrei Kirilenko and Eduard Gurvitz will also take their seats in the next RADA.

A rather mixed bag of old and new faces to go to the RADA if these prove to be the eventual results – which hopefully will not be too long in their announcing.  Once they are confirmed, then perhaps a “post mortem” entry will be forthcoming.



The electoral (infringement) map – Ukraine

October 27, 2014

Having mentioned electoral law infringements several times recently, it is perhaps wise to look at those infringements on a national basis, region by region.

Firstly there is this map relating to the lead up to today’s elections – input ending at yesterday’s legally imposed purdah.  It lists 2331 infringements of electoral law between 22th September and 26th October.

Then there is this map, leading up to, and including polling day.  It lists a total of 587 (and counting).

A difference at the time of writing of 1744 electoral infringements – though that discrepancy will decrease as the day goes on (unfortunately) – in part due to the SBU asking voters who witness infringements to photograph/video and upload any incidents for further investigation.  The police asking the public to help them police – quite rightly.

The second map clearly has far more correlation to the number of formal complaints submitted to the authorities and courts for investigation and subsequent ruling – as an example, this historical entry of a few days ago stated 15 such pending cases in Odessa – the second map listing 13 infringements, rather than the first map that cites 393 infringements for the Odessa Oblast.

Leaving aside the due diligence in corroboration of any claimed infringement by collating entities, as infringements can take many forms – innocent and/or genuine administrative blunders, deliberate administrative manipulation, the employment of administrative resources to support a candidate or party over another, corporate coercion, group or individual bribery/intimidation of voters, candidates, campaign staff, election commission personnel, observers and media etc – to far more minor issues such as forgetting to remove a photograph of the president in a polling station (an infringement far less likely to change the vote of any constituent, or effect any election commission shenanigans during vote counts) – the scope for deliberately, innocently, accidentally, or maliciously bending or breaking the electoral law is broad indeed – and not confident to either the lead up to polling day, nor polling day itself, but both (and perhaps a few days afterward too).

Thus, whilst the number of electoral law infringements will naturally catch the eye, perhaps what on-lookers should deliberate further, is the nature and intent behind each infringement in and of itself – together with that infringement’s ability to influence or change the actual vote both of the individual, and the possible collective effect in the overall results.

In short, whilst it would be possible for the number of infringements recorded to go up, the number of serious and vote changing incidents may actually go down – or vice versa – and that is based upon the presumption that the recording mechanisms remain constant.

As is historically the case with elections in Ukraine, most infringements occur either during the election campaigns prior to polling day, or after the polling stations have closed via corrupted election commissions or ballot boxes mysteriously disappearing for a period of time.

We shall see what today brings.  Probably a majority coalition of Block Poroshenko, People;s Front and Self Help, but it is the single mandate (first past the post) seats that are going to be the most interesting (not only through the high number of infringements they always produce) but in the overall makeup of the new RADA.

Notwithstanding that, there are a significant number of local elections also held today – and if “decentralisation” realises itself per the presidential plan/promise, then local government will have a far more significant role.

Before signing off for the day – a note of thanks to the thousands of international and domestic election observers need be, and indeed is, offered.


Whilst in a state of purdah – security for polling day

October 26, 2014

Whilst Ukraine enters a state of purdah, and all electioneering has thus ended, in keeping with the spirit of an official and lawfully required end to campaigning, there will be no mention of the election – as far as voting, outcomes, infringements and speculative coalitions are concerned.

However, related in the current circumstances is the issue of security.

As if proof were required of that last tweet, the SBU in Odessa last evening arrested 11 people, including 2 serving members of the Primorsky (the central rayon) police department.

All allegedly part of the “Odessa Liberation Army”, with SBU sources claiming these 11 were the “Duma” – by which it is inferred inner council responsible for the organisation and planning of subversive activities in Odessa, prior to, on, and beyond election day.

It would seem quite clear that the arrests have been left as close to polling day as possible to cause maximum disruption within the “OLA” and prevent a renewed, connected and capable leadership structure being reinstalled had the arrests occurred earlier.  An attempt at effectively decapitating the organisation – temporarily at least – in the most timely and effective manner with regard democratic outcomes.  Somewhat textbook counter-terrorist policy, not to mention decent intelligence work.

That is not to say polling will go without incident tomorrow.  Single mandate seat 136 looks a possible candidate for problems – albeit not necessarily “separatist/Kremlin backed”.  Seat 136 issues, if they occur, will be due to bad blood between candidates and the crescendo of a dirty campaign for that particular seat.

Nevertheless, whilst external interested parties may rightly fret over the possibilities of subversive actors and actions (externally or internally sponsored) – the local populous and security services, if somewhat expectant of problems, seem quite determined not to be deterred.

Naturally, it is hoped that tomorrow runs without illegal incident – but as hope is not a strategy, there at the very least appears to be some tactics in play from the security services.


An unusual course of events

October 25, 2014

One of the few benefits of spending 10 minutes a day, most days over the past few years, churning out less than erudite rumination more often than not, is that when Ukraine and/or Odessa are for some reason internationally interesting, approaches are made by journalists wanting either an interview (most requests refused), or a “fixer” to facilitate interviews, or meeting requests are made by NGOs, academics, think-tankers, observers of various sorts, the occasional wandering politician, and  flocks of passing diplomats for (mostly) off the record chats.

All interesting people, or people doing interesting things – sometimes both.

Notwithstanding that, the blog is read by many embassies in Kyiv – particularly those without consulates or honourary consuls in Odessa.  Indeed some blog entries are quite deliberately written for that audience – despite the usually corresponding drop in reader figures on such occasions.

This is one of those entries that will be read, and is intended to be read, by those in Kyiv, and those with whom this blog meets later today, and yet others tomorrow.

Over the past few weeks several diplomats based in Kyiv known fairly well to this blog, and from several different embassies, have been in contact asking specifically about campaign intimidation and/or violence in Odessa relating to the elections on Sunday.

Aside from the much reported incident relating to Nestor Shufrych and the “Opposition Block”, and an explosive devise putting breaking the windows at a small Batkivshchyna office, there have been a few minor incidents with regard the single mandate (first past the post) campaigns.  A candidate from Arseniy Yatseiuk’s People’s Front was threatened some time ago.  A man employed by a candidate, Mr Golubov, was assaulted putting up posters by men associated with another candidate, Sergei Strashnyi.  Mr Kivalov has on-hired some goons to intimidate others – primarily, it appears, the people of Mr Rondin who is perhaps his main competitor.  This is sadly nothing unusual from previous election years in Odessa, particularly so when it comes to those competing for single mandate seats.  The single mandate seats are historically far more dirty in their campaign tactics than the tactics of the proportional representation party vote.

As such, nothing unusual  is occurring regarding the form of intimidation or violent incidents according to information known personally to, or received from reliable sources across all party lines and within numerous candidate camps.  Neither are the number of these incidents any higher than previously associated with elections in Odessa.

Currently there are at least 15 cases (and rising) of electoral infringements under investigation in Odessa – the majority however, relate to voter bribery, and then misuse of administrative resources, rather than intimidation or violence.

However, there appears to be something of an upturn in allegations/notifications/complaints of violent or intimidation incidents being made to the international diplomatic community from people closely associated to – but not necessarily  by – certain candidates.

And so the question arises, why are the number of allegations of violence and/or intimidation undergoing official investigation in Odessa, significantly less than the number of reported incidents to several embassies in Kyiv – to the point those embassies have been in contact to put these claims into perspective via a local (and hopefully trusted) sources?

What is to be gained by a significant amount of such claims/reports being made to several diplomatic centres in Kyiv, that fail to correspond to official complaints with the domestic investigative authorities, or are known to the local media (whether the story was run or not)?

Such claims are surely going to be checked by even the most junior of diplomats – and junior diplomats don’t get out of their Kyiv offices and down to see the likes of this blog on the coin of their State.  Senior diplomats that do get out of their offices are even less likely to accept the unusual and unexpected without sufficient investigation to ease their minds by way of corroboration.

In short, a very unusual course of events for elections in Odessa is/has occurred – and a course of events for which, as yet, the reasons have thus far not become apparent.

The point of making so many spurious/uncorroborated and domestically unofficial claims?



Vulnerable voters and voting vulnerability

October 23, 2014

As has been mentioned recently, the number of internally displaced persons due to the undeclared war in eastern Ukraine is a particularly sad, and is going to be an enduring social issue for Ukrainian society and government alike, for some considerable time to come.

Notwithstanding what will undoubtedly prove to be a humanitarian calamity at best, disaster at worst, over the winter months, there are also the elections on Sunday to consider and the ability to the displaced to vote.

Normally if voting outside a person’s registered home rayon polling station there are procedures to follow that allow for it.

It would also be foolish to expect that a registered IDP will automatically appear on an accessible voters list in their current temporary location.  In any circumstances that would be too much like joined up government in Ukraine, and these are exceptional circumstances.

However, a law was passed allowing the possibility of a temporary change in the voting place (at the time of the election or referendum) of the voter, who on the day of voting for a good reason not to vote on his election address, without changing the electoral address.

But this clearly has certain problematic issues and does not seem to provide any mechanisms to prevent carousel voting on election day.

If voters without being registered to an address, or a relevant constituency address, can vote on the production of a passport, how does that stop them registering at and then voting at, several polling stations across several different city rayons that day?  We are, after all, talking about traditional paper ballots and not e-voting whereby a computerised system may detect the same passport number voting twice or three times at different locations on polling day.

Needless to say, with a little organisation and a dash of criminal intent, some local electoral outcomes could indeed be perverted to the point of changing outcomes – and any appeals are not going to be dealt with in a timely manner when trying to find added passport numbers to electoral lists across an entire city and numerous polling stations within.

Perhaps effecting actual results is less of a problem that a rumour/propaganda mill may simply employ such a possibility enough to undermine the entire process, when the actual effect was minimal.  Perception warping reality and thus corroding legitimacy.

There are thousands and thousands of historical cases where legitimate and registered voters have found themselves to be missing from the electoral register and have thus been prevented from casting their vote.  There have been occasions when those who have lawfully and dutifully completed the procedures to vote in a different city, who have then found themselves to be able to unconsciously and unknowingly carry out quantum physics and vote in two places at the same time.  That is not withstanding entire legions of the dead, that despite having passed on into eternal slumber, have not only remained on voters lists, but managed to cast their ballot too.

Whilst there is clearly an attempt being made to facilitate maximum democratic inclusiveness in the current circumstances, what potential price to the integrity of the democratic outcome with a seemingly lacking mechanism to prevent carousel and/or simply fraudulent voting?

If such mechanisms exist, then they are proving very difficult to find and cite – and even if they do, how could any such mechanism be effectively implemented on voting day?

Thus, as we ponder whether the metaphorical glass is half full, or half empty, after this legislative change, it is probably necessary to acknowledge that it is actually the wrong glass – albeit the only one that could be found in an emergency.



Points make prizes – but is the prize worth having?

October 22, 2014

With the RADA elections now only 5 days away, some thought should perhaps be given regarding any new coalitions and cabinet of ministers that will follow.

Way back on 24th/25th July an entry was published that stated Volodymyr Groysman would become Prime Minister after the forthcoming RADA elections as long as he didn’t drop the ball – and he hasn’t.  President Poroshenko will naturally want one from his stable as PM – and one he trusts, despite Arseniy Yatseniuk doing a decent job in very difficult circumstances.

Ergo, how effective that crystal ball gazing so many months ago will prove to be, is about to be seen in either illuminating and prophetic glory, or embarrassingly poor light.  That such an old entry has been resurrected so close to the elections may be rightfully inferred as that belief remaining – on the assumption that Volodymyr Groysman would want and accept the role of Prime Minister.  It remains something of a poisoned challis that demands an effect first 100 days when all is said and done.

However, Block Poroshenko is not likely to come anywhere close to a RADA majority – a coalition will be required to hold a robust majority.

The question is then not only with whom, but which party would accept a coalition in which the party leader does not become Prime Minister?

It is almost guaranteed that Ms Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna will not be invited into any Block Poroshenko coalition.  You either work for Ms Tymoshenko, or against her – you do not work with her.  A more zero sum politician is hard to find, making her an extremely difficult partner.  Ergo any coalition involving Ms Tymoshenko could be expected to find her demanding to become Prime Minister and thus leading to a repeat performance of the feckless and wasted Yushenko/Tyoshenko years notable for in-fighting and squandered opportunities.

A coalition with the “Opposition Block” is simply out of the question for more reasons than it is necessary to list.

Gritsenko’s Civic Platform?  Probably not – even if he would be content to fill a Cabinet roll such as that of Defence Minister, which he has previously held.  Would he demand something more lofty?  Probably.

Would Arseniy Yatseniuk’s Popular Front form a coalition with Block Poroshenko, even when Yatseniuk himself would suffer a perceived demotion?  It is a possibility, but what position to offer Yatseniuk?  He is certainly a very clever man and capable of holding numerous positions.  A return as Speaker?  Deputy PM with a European integration port folio?  He is certainly well known and liked amongst those who will continue to financially and politically support Ukraine.

Tellingly, Yatseniuk refused the Block Poroshenko mandate, preferring the Popular Front run alone – a sign perhaps that a longer term view with future presidential elections are a consideration.  A case of being close, but not close enough to Block Poroshenko to be indistinguishable for future leadership contests.

What of Sergei Tigipko’s Strong Ukraine?  Such a coalition would certainly be perceived as reaching out to the eastern regions in a tangible way.  Tigipko is also a capable man.  Whether he would settle for a role other than Prime Minister is the question.  Deputy PM with a social policy port folio?  It would tick many boxes for him personally and instill a little more confidence in the east.

Ukraine’s version of Vladimir Zhirinovsky – the bellicose populist but otherwise empty shell that is Oleh Lyashko and the Radical Party?  He certainly believes that he will be King Maker – but will he?  Could a suitably airy and apparently important title be found for a man incapable of holding a serious and/or sensitive role?  Could a glorious title for a position of little influence be found?

The Self-Help party?  If it gets over the 5% threshold, it seems a realistic contender as a coalition partner.

Will a coalition of Block Poroshenko and one other party be enough to secure a robust majority – or will it require a trilateral coalition?  If it takes 3 parties for a sturdy majority, which 3 can work together effectively?

What of the shadow power building spanning party lines?  How much of a consideration will the generous – but not evenly applied – sprinkling of Sergei Liovochkin’s people throughout most parties effect which party is approached first by Block Poroshenko?  Will “shadow influence” be a factor in any decision making when it comes to accepting or mitigating Ukraine’s grey cardinal?  What of the chess games behind the political facade between Liovochkin, Poroshenko and Kolomoyski?

How easily will it all fit together if the prediction that Volodymyr Groysman will become the next Prime Minister is to be the non-negotiable starting point of any coalition building?  Points make prizes – but the prize has to be worth having for competitors when they are deliberating forming a coalition with Block Poroshenko – and coalition party leaders expect big hierarchical rewards for their allegiance.

Is this blog’s exceptionally fortunate legacy of success when peering into the Ukrainian political crystal ball about to get it wrong – and very soon?


Poroshenko signs election law amendments……but……

October 20, 2014

After returning from what can only be described as a less than successful ASEM Summit with regard to progress vis a vis The Kremlin, President Poroshenko has signed the election law amendments relating to voter bribery.

Thus it is now an offence for organisations, institutions, and enterprises to provide undue advantage, or the provision of free goods and services to voters for fear of imprisonment for 2 – 4 years, and/or depriving those responsible within from holding certain public office for a period of 1 – 3 years.

Those that would obstruct the execution of free universal suffrage (violating electoral rights), including the functioning of election commission personnel and observers, together with acts of bribery, fraud or coercion, now face a prison term of 2 – 3 years.

Abuse of office, including members of the election commission now carries a sentence of 3 – 7 years.

Also illegal instruction to an election official in order to effect or influence the election commission now carries a 5 – 10 year sentence, forgery of election documents 3 – 7 years, and theft or concealment of ballot boxes 5 – 7 years.

There is also some adjustment in the existing fines mechanisms.

All very good – but, and there is always a but – it is far too late to have any meaningful impact on this election campaign.  Currently there are at least 15 pending voter bribery cases now in Odessa.  14 in Zaporizhia, in Kyiv another 25.  Kharkiv has also at least 11 pending voter bribery cases, with Zhytomyr 9, and Donetsk another 7, etc.    How many thousands of voters this has influenced – who knows?

There is little point in listing all current bribery allegations under the old unamended law – suffice to say these new amendments cannot be applied retrospectively to at least 140 (and counting) cases of voter bribery during this election campaign.

It will perhaps, make a difference to the final week of electioneering before the ballot on 26th October, but  it is not going to have an effect on judicial outcomes relating those bribery allegations made prior to the law amendments being signed, or investigations/cases already under way.   The laws applicable are those in existence at the time of the commission of the offence – not those in force the date they are heard in a court of law.

Thus, no doubt there will be numerous – indeed plentiful – cases of voter bribery yet to be added to the 140+ incidents already known, that despite coming to light post signing of these amendments into law, will fall squarely within the law prior to it being amended due to the date the offence was commissioned rather than discovered.

Ponder we may, upon how election observers already on the ground in Ukraine will be able to cope with/assess a change of legislation a week before polling.  Dissemination of these amendments are usually less than timely, and their interpretation is not likely to be uniform across regional institutions around the nation either.

All, of course, is not entirely untimely.  The amendments may, and indeed will, be in legal effect when the electoral commission staff deal with the issues of polling day, and any subsequent counting or ballot box shenanigans thereafter.

It will be interesting to see what mention, if any, this gets in any international observer reports.


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