Already, an Oct. 19 report by the OSCE’s Election Observation mission unearthed reports of abuse of administrative resources in support of the ruling Party of Regions, threats of violence against opposition campaign workers and at least 25 complaints alleging campaign violations.
The fairness of Ukraine’s parliamentary elections will be a big test for the country, with trade and other agreements with the European Union potentially hanging in the balance.
“If these elections run well, then I really cannot find any logical argument to claim there is no democracy in Ukraine,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Voloshyn told the BBC.
At least one Ukrainian group hopes to enlist everyday citizens to help keep the elections honest. An organization called ElectUA has launched a crowd-sourcing platform that will allow Ukrainians to submit reports of election violations. So far, 1,221 reports have been submitted.
(The red bubbles are “confirmed” cases, and blue bubbles represent unconfirmed cases.)
For example, one poster in the town of in Luts’k sent in a photo of a front page of a local newspaper, saying a large endorsement for a local Party of Regions candidate ran on the front page without being labeled as a political advertisement.
“The advantage of the Electua.org project is ‘smart’ crowdsourcing and a clear transparent system of information verification. A team of moderators checks all reports on violations,” the organization’s site says.
Ukraine’s government has a rating of “Partly Free” by the democracy organization Freedom House, which downgraded the country in 2011 after reports of crackdowns on dissent and the jailing of Yanukovych’s main opponent, former prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, for seven years on trumped-up corruption charges. Freedom House has also said that corruption is the “greatest threat” to the country’s democracy.
Yanukovych recently turned half the parliament’s seats into “single-mandate” constituencies and has rolled back limitations on executive power.
Note to readers: We used Google translate in part to find some of the translations for this article. Native or fluent speakers can help us by leaving improved translations in the comments.