Tymoshenko allies urge West to reject results of 'dirtiest' poll

Fri, Nov 2, 2012, 00:00

A SENIOR election official has called Ukraine’s parliamentary vote on Sunday the “dirtiest” ballot in the country’s independent history, as allies of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko sought to persuade western ambassadors to have their capitals reject the results.

Tymoshenko has gone on hunger strike in protest at what she called a rigged election and western observers described as a setback for democracy in Ukraine.

The ruling Regions Party of president Viktor Yanukovich won the election, and insists that while problems may have occurred, the results reflected the will of the Ukrainian people.

“With regret and sadness we can say that these elections were the dirtiest in the history of independent Ukraine. If voting day was fairly calm and transparent, the most important stage – the establishment of voting results – has today entered a really terrible phase,” said Zhanna Usenko-Chernaya, deputy chairperson of Ukraine’s central election commission. “Unfortunately, we have more than a dozen districts where results are not just questionable, but show that they have been grossly falsified,” she added.

“There are many districts that will be recorded in very dirty ink in the history of Ukraine.”

She made her startling comments as allies of Ms Tymoshenko – who was jailed for seven years last October on abuse-of-power charges she says are false – sought to unite with other opposition parties and address their election concerns to foreign officials.

Sergey Sobolev, a member of Tymoshenko’s Fatherland bloc, said he would seek “an urgent meeting with . . . missions from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe and ambassadors of foreign states and the US, because the constitution is being breached here and to recognise elections like these is impossible”.

Mr Sobolev said he hoped Fatherland would be joined in the meetings by other opposition groups like the far-right Freedom party and the new, liberal Udar (Punch) party led by world heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko. They came fifth and third respectively in the vote.

Leaders of Fatherland and the EU’s ambassador to Ukraine were allowed to meet Tymoshenko yesterday, prison officials said, after the head of an OSCE election-monitoring team was prevented from meeting her earlier in the week. Ukrainian medics who saw her yesterday urged her to end her hunger strike. She has been in hospital for several months getting treatment for back problems.