Committee of voters of Ukraine is a non-governmental civic organisation which monitors election processes in ukraine. With the beginning of the early Presidential elections campaign , 150 CVU long term observers work in the regions on Ukraine.
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Amendments of the law “On Elections of the President of Ukraine” provide sufficient legal basis for holding early Presidential elections according to the international standards.
2. External factors, caused by tension in Ukraine-Russia relations may have negative effect on organisation and conduction of Presidential elections. Potential military intervention and attempts to disrupt elections in some regions may significantly de-legitimate the election results and broaden the split in the society. Bodies of state authorities should make further steps necessary for deescalation of tension and prevention of elections disruption in particular regions.
3. Central election commission adopted most part of normative acts necessary for proper preparation and conduction of elections in correspondence with the requirements of the new Law. In the reporting period, activities of CEC, including those regarding registering candidates in President, their representatives and election agents corresponded to the legal provisions.
4. As soon as term of office of most CEC members expires before the second round of the early Presidential elections, the Parliament should make further steps to provide effective CEC work during preparation and conduction of the second round of voting.
5. In March 2014 local bodies of executive authorities and local self-government were not active enough in providing conditions for proper work of election commissions, conduction of election campaigning, providing proper preparations for conduction of elections in general. Acting President of Ukraine and higher bodies of executive power (Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, corresponding ministries and other central executive authorities) should intensify process of new appointments in the system of executive power bodies. It will allow establishment of proper conditions for effective functioning of the authority vertical for organisation of election process.
6. As soon as the law “On Elections of the President of Ukraine” has been amended during the election process, the CEC, parties and candidates in President should make special efforts to provide readiness of election commission members to conduction of elections in correspondence with the requirements of the new Law.
7. In order to provide conduction of elections in correspondence with international standards, in the process of formation of election commission composition candidates connected with violation of election legislation should not be nominated, especially those connected with violations committed during preparation and conduction of elections of People's deputies of Ukraine of 2012-2013.
8. During campaigning candidates should make special focus not on empty messages, but on development of specific steps for getting over the crisis in different spheres of social life.
The May 25th 2014 early elections of the President of Ukraine will be held according to a significantly amanded Law “On Elections of the President of Ukraine”, which generally provides sufficient legal basis for holding early Presidential elections according to the international standards. However, amendments to the Law were made during the election process. Such practice not only contradicts to international standards, but also may complicate its practical application, as soon as parties, candidates in president, members of election commissions and judges will not have enough time to get familiar with the Law provisions.
In March 2014 the CEC had adopted a number of normative acts necessary for proper application of the Law. However, conduction of may 25th elections in correspondence with international standards depends not only form the legal basis, but also from the will of election process participants to conduct the elections in fair, transparent and democratic way.
The Report provides overview of activities of legislative and executive authorities, local self-government bodies and political parties connected with preparation and conduction of the early elections of the Head of state in March 2014, as well as general overview of political context of the activities of state bodies and election process subjects in the next few months.
1. The political context of early elections
In most regions the process of replacing senior executives of oblast and rayon state administrations, as well as local bodies of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Security Service of Ukraine and Prosecutor's Office is not finished yet. This fact undermines effectiveness of governance in the regions in as a whole and is a factor of destabilizing the situation in some particular regions. For example, in most oblasts executives of rayon state administrations remained practically the same (Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya, Luhansk oblasts), in some cases executives of oblast administrations were not replaced (Odesa, Poltava oblasts). In some regions (Volyn, Zakarpattya, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, Rivne, Sumy, Ternopil, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmelnytsky oblasts) heads of rayon state administrations were dismissed (or resigned), but the appointment of new heads was not completed.
Appointments in several oblasts are actively influenced both by the ruling parties (“Batkivschyna”, “Svoboda” and UDAR) and local activists (representatives of Avtomaidan, former soldiers-internationalists, etc.) and lustration committees (Zakarpattya and Chernivtsi oblasts). Though such an approach has its advantages, the main disadvantage is a risk of appointment to senior positions honest but incompetent people.
Due to the incomplete development of “authority vertical”, lack of support from local elites, own team or due to other reasons, in some oblasts newly appointed heads of oblast state administrations do not actually control the situation in region (Donetsk, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Chernivtsi oblasts).
The role of law enforcement bodies in supporting public order in “problematic” regions of the South-Eastern part of the state is low. Passivity of law enforcement bodies in Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts is one of the main reasons of separatist sentiments, penetration of foreign citizens to the territories of respective oblasts, capturing government buildings. Although I.Kolomoyskyy generally controls the situation in Dnipropetrovsk oblast, the bodies of oblast internal affairs actually support the activities of pro-Russian movements in oblast center. However, in Kherson and Mykolaiv oblasts situation becomes more controlled, and the number of separatists’ moves is decreasing.
2. Activities of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
During March - early April 2014 the Parliament adopted a number of important decisions that directly affect the preparation and holding of early Presidential elections in Ukraine on May 25, 2014.
First of all, on March 13, 2014 the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted in the second reading and in general the comprehensive amendments to the Law “On Elections of the President of Ukraine.” These changes provide improvement of certain provisions of the current law “On Elections of the President of Ukraine”:
- division of election precincts into permanent and temporary;
- reducing the quantitative structure of DECs and PECs (by reducing the number of candidates in election commission members that may be nominated by relevant nominators);
- decisions of election commissions approved by majority of their members;
- confirming prohibition of amendments to the voter lists on election day;
- clarifying the procedure of vote tabulation and establishment of election results;
- providing NGOs with the right to have observers at elections;
- providing official observers a status of subjects of electoral process and expanding their rights.
However, some shortcomings of the previous edition of the law “On Elections of the President of Ukraine” (for example, amount of the election deposit, regulation of pre-election campaigning, reasons to recognize election result at precinct as invalid) has not been resolved.
In general, the new version of the law “On Elections of the President of Ukraine,” in case of the proper application of the relevant provisions of the law, creates a sufficient legal basis for holding early Presidential elections according to the international standards.
At the same time it's important to improve regulation of liability for crimes and administrative violations that infringe on voting rights. The sanctions provided under the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses and the Criminal Code of Ukraine, in many cases, can hardly be considered adequate. Also some provision phrasings of the Code are not perfect and have been criticized both by national experts and international organizations (including the Venice Commission).
On April 1st 2014 the Parliament adopted resolutions on early resignation of the CEC members Kopylenko O.L. and Donchenko Y.G. and appointment of new CEC members K. Berezyuk and O. Didenko for “quotas” of UDAR and “Svoboda” correspondently. Appointment of new CEC members allowed the parties which were not represented in CEC to get such representation.
However, further revision of CEC still remains a relevant issue since term of most CEC members' appointment expires before the second round of Presidential elections in June 2014. This fact can negatively influence on preparation and conduct of the second round of voting. Leading political parties discussed various solutions to this problem – from prolongation of CEC members' term of appointment to resignation of all CEC members and appointment of 15 new members. The last approach is reflected in the draft law “On restoration of legality in work of the Central Election Commission” № 4489 of 19.03.2014 (submitted by Karpuntsov V.V.), but in context of recent appointments to the CEC its adoption seems to be quite improbable. Furthermore, the appointment of new CEC members shortly to early Presidential elections can negatively affect preparation and conduct of elections, as new Commission members are not properly prepared to exercise their powers.
3. Activities of CEC
On April 4th, 2014 the Central Election Commission registered 23 candidates for the President of Ukraine, 23 authorized representatives of candidates in the CEC, 7 election agents of presidential candidates in the national constituency and 2 election agents in the territorial constituencies.
The CEC also registered 118 official observers from the OSCE/ODIHR and granted permission for 10 NGOs to have official observers on elections, 5 NGOs can have observers in all constituencies.
Several candidates for President of Ukraine were denied to register. The most common reason for refusal to register was a failure of a candidate for President to make a deposit in amount of 2.5 million UAH. The most common reasons for refusing registration of presidential candidates are listed below:
- lack of document proving deposit in amount of 2 500 000 UAH. (Tovtrivska O.O., Kostiv G.P., Miroshnichenko G.L., Marinich V.K., Schetynin S.M., Omelchenko O.M., Burnashova O.M., Kucheriavenko O.V., Chopey V.V., Makhlai A.F., Rozhnova L.V., Maksymenko L.V., Miroshnichenko D.L., Rekalo P.Y., Onopryyuk T.G., Abbasov Z.D., Lavrentiv-Furdas B.F., Metalnikov A.I.);
- exceeding the established volume limit (up to 2000 characters) for autobiography of presidential candidate (Tovtrivska O.O., Omelchenko O.M.);
- lack of candidate's autobiography (Abbasov Z.D.)
- submission autobiography in hard paper form only (Kostiv G.P., Metalnikov A.I.);
- lack of required information in autobiography (Makhlai A.F., Rozhnova L.V., Rekalo P.Y.,);
- lack of duly certified application for registration (Tovtrivska O.O., Kostiv G.P., Velidchenko V.I., Burnashova O.M., Chopey V.V., Makhlai A.F., Maksymenko L.V., Miroshnichenko D.L., Lavrentiv-Furdas B.F., Metalnikov A.I.);
- applying for registration as a candidate not personally (Burnashova O.M., Chopey V.V., Makhlai A.F., Maksymenko L.V., Onopryyuk T.G., Abbasov Z.D., Metalnikov A.I.);
- no photocopies of pages Ukrainian citizen's passport attached to the application (Omelchenko O.M., Rozhnova L.V., Maksymenko L.V., Onopryyuk T.G., Abbasov Z.D.);
- lack of candidate’s application form (Velidchenko V.G., Burnashova O.M., Chopey V.V., Maksymenko L.V., Metalnikov A.I .);
- absence of required information in presidential candidate’s application form (Tovtrivska O.O., Kostiv G.P. , Kucheriavenko O.V., Rekalo P.Y., Lavrentiv-Furdas B.F.);
- lack of declaration on income, property, expenses and financial obligations (Velidchenko V.G., Burnashova O.M., Chopey V.V., Makhlai A.F., Rozhnova L.V., Maksymenko L.V., Abbasov Z.D. );
- non-complience of submitted declaration on income, property, expenses and financial obligations with provisions established by the Law "On Prevention and Combating Corruption", including non-personal completing of declaration (Kostiv G.P., Marinich V.K., Omelchenko O.M., Kucheriavenko O.V., Miroshnichenko D.L., Rekalo P.Y., Onopryyuk T.G., Abbasov Z.D.);
- failure to submit of election program in electronic form (Kostiv G.P., Maksymenko L.V.);
- submission of election program written in other than the state language (Maksymenko L.V., Onopryyuk T.G.);
- exceeding the required volume of election program (Schetynin S.M., Onopryyuk T.G.);
- no photographs of the candidate (Velidchenko V.G., Burnashova O.M. Chopey V.V., Makhlai A.F.);
- non-complience of photographs of the candidate with set requirements concerning the size (Kostiv G.P., Rozhnova L.V., Miroshnichenko D.L., Rekalo P.Y., Onopryyuk T.G., Abbasov Z.D.);
- absence of a written consent to disclosure of biographical information, information submitted in declaration on income, property, expenses and financial obligations, absence of written commitments according to the Law (Burnashova O.M., Chopey V.V., Maksymenko L.V ., Metalnikov A.I.).
In general, the CEC decisions to refuse registration of presidential candidates were adopted in compliance with the Law “On Elections of the President of Ukraine.”
In March 2014 the CEC adopted a number of by-law regulations aimed at ensuring the implementation of the Law “On Elections of the President of Ukraine”, including:
- procedure for registration of official observers from foreign states and international organizations (CEC resolution №30 of 03.04.2014);
- regulation of CEC № 31 of 4.03.2014 “On requirements for premises of district and precinct election commissions at election of the President of Ukraine and requirements for polling stations, rules of providing election commission at elections of the President of Ukraine with vehicles, means of communication, equipment, inventory, office equipment and other material goods; services that election commissions can purchase at expense of the State Budget of Ukraine”;
- regulation № 69 of 25.03.2014 «On application forms of candidates for district and precinct election commissions for elections of the President of Ukraine »
- regulation № 70 of 25.03.2014 «On the order of distribution of senior positions in district election commissions at election of the President of Ukraine between subjects who nominated candidates to these commissions»;
- regulation № 71 of 25.03.2014 «On the order of distribution of senior positions in precinct election commissions at election of the President of Ukraine between subjects who nominated candidates to these commissions»;
- regulation № 74 of 26.03.2014 «On the order of provision of electronic copies of the database of State Voter Register to parliamentary factions in Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and to the candidates for President of Ukraine during preparation of the President of Ukraine elections”;
- regulation № 75 of 26.03.2014 “On the order of handing over ballot papers to election commissions at elections of the President of Ukraine “;
- regulation № 77 of 26.03.2014 “On Approval of Procedure of funding of district election commissions and precinct election commissions of out-of-country election precincts at expense of the State Budget of Ukraine for preparation and conduct elections of the President of Ukraine”;
- regulation № 87 of 27.03.2014 “On form, size and layout of informational posters of candidates for President of Ukraine, the order of their production and handing over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and to corresponding election commissions at election of the President of Ukraine”;
- regulation № 114 of 28.03.2014 “On Procedure for examination of complaints by election commissions at election of the President of Ukraine”;
- regulation № 115 of 28.03.2014 “On samples and descriptions of stamps, sign plates of district and precinct election commissions at election of the President of Ukraine and the stamp “Withdrawn”
- regulation № 116 of 28.03.2014 “On Procedure for production, handing over, storage and use of seals of election commissions at election of the President of Ukraine and the stamp “Withdrawn”;
- regulation № 124 of 30.03.2014 “On forms of applications on establishment of special polling stations on a temporary basis and in exceptional cases”;
- regulation № 144 of 31.03.2014 “On form, size and layout of informational posters of candidates for People's deputies of Ukraine registered in single-mandate constituencies, the order of their production and handing over to corresponding election commissions at elections of People's deputies of Ukraine”;
- regulation № 166 of 1.04.2014 “On the forms of personalized invitation letters at election of the President of Ukraine”;
- regulation № 177 of 2.04.2014 “On ensuring the exercise of powers of the Central Election Commission on territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, oblasts, cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol, and in an out-of-country election district”.
Thus, the CEC in general established the proper legal basis for holding early presidential elections according to new provisions of the Law “On Elections of the President of Ukraine.”
4. Activities of local authorities
In March 2014 no significant activities of local authorities to prepare for holding early presidential elections was registered. In many cases it is caused by personnel changes in the system of local government authorities and the threat of foreign intervention of Russian Federation, i.e. factors that are of greater importance compared to preparations for the elections.
In Donetsk oblast there are some cases that local bodies of self-government established special working groups and initiate educational campaigns on checking State Voter Register data by voters. For example, the executive committee of Makiyivka city council approved composition of a working group on implementation of local self-government bodies' powers according to the Law of Ukraine “On the Election of the President of Ukraine”. However, these measures of local authorities in oblast didn't become wide-spread yet. The preparation to elections is quite slow also in Ivano-Frankivsk, Luhansk, Lviv, Odesa, Rivne, Sumy, Ternopil, Cherkasy, Chernivtsi oblasts.
In general preparation of local authorities to elections includes establishing places for and equipping bulletin boards and stands for placing campaign materials (see below), revision of the State Voter Register data, informing voters about the need to check themselves in the State Register of Voters (Kharkiv oblast), holding meetings to prepare for elections (in some oblasts, for example, Kherson) inspections of conditions for the work of election commissions (Vinnytsya oblast).
According to the Law “On Election of the President of Ukraine” local executive authorities and local bodies of self-government should have established places for and equip stands, information boards in public places for placement of campaign materials before March 5, 2014. According to information provided by the regional offices of CVU, far from every relevant authorities in the regions had performed this duty.
Thus, relevant decisions were approved by executive authorities and local self-governments in Vinnytsya, Volyn, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Poltava, Kharkiv and Chernivtsi oblasts. In Donetsk oblast, Donetsk, Avdiivka, Kramatorsk, Dzerzhynsk city councils didn't adopt appropriate decisions while Yasinuvatska, Artemivsk, Gorlovska, Krasnoarmiyska, Selydivka, Mariynsk, Torez city councils made decisions with violation of deadlines stipulated by the Law of Ukraine “On Election of the President of Ukraine.”
The same situation is in Lugansk oblast, where is Sverdlovsk, Rovenky, Krasnyy Luch, Kasnodon, Antracyt, Alchevsk these decisions were not approved, and in some cities (Rubizhne, Lysychansk, Bryanka) decisions were taken late. In Ivano-Frankivsk oblast information boards and stands are not equipped in a proper way, there are still commercial advertising on the boards.
5. Activities of parties at regional and local levels
Еhe following tendencies were typical for the parties' activities on regional level in March:
- general low level of political activities of parties;
- intensification of activities of “Right Sector” and not institutionalized groups (Avtomaidan, Self-Defense, Cossack associations, “East Front”, Patriotic Forces of Donbass, Donbass People's Guard, etc.) in some regions;
- passivity of the Party of Regions in most oblasts where it had a considerable level of electoral support (except only Donetsk oblast, where the Party of Regions is still the party with major influence);
- intensification of activities of “Svoboda” in regions where it didn't have the high level of voter support (Volyn, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Poltava, Kharkiv, Kherson oblasts);
- reducing activities of pro-Russian parties and movements (Ukrainsky vybir, Russian block, etc.) at the end of March;
- focus on issues (depending on region) of lustration, anti-corruption, federalism, decentralization of authority, status of Russian language, the need for regional referendums, preventing intervention of Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine etc.
6. Campaigning of political parties and potential candidates at local level
Although the main political parties held congresses at the end of March 2014 and nominated their own candidates for election, in general no considerable campaigning by local organizations of parties in regions was observed in March.
Rare campaign events took place in Vinnitsa oblast (P.Poroshenko held meeting with voters on March 24th 2014), Volyn oblast (where CVU observers recorded only few cases of erecting campaign tents of UDAR and “Svoboda”), Dnipropetrovsk oblast (couple of campaign events from the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) and “Batkivschyna”), Ternopil oblast (tents of “Batkivschyna”, UDAR and “Svoboda” placed in Ternopil city center), Kherson oblast (headquarters of some candidates start their work), Chernivtsi oblast (couple of O. Lyashko's campaign events).
In other regions (particularly in Donetsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Rivne, Kharkiv, Cherkasy, Chernigiv oblasts) there were no notable activities of major parties on preparation for elections.