Sevastopol, Ukraine – The Committee for Open Democracy became the first international monitoring organization to observe the Crimean Tatar Kuraltai Elections. The “Kuraltai” (assembly) elections began taking place in the cities and rayons of Bakhchisarary, Krasnogvardiskye, Sevastopol, Dzhankoy and Belogorsk in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine. Based on The Committee’s findings, the will of the voters was reflected in the final results. In the past, The Committee has also observed past elections in Moldova, Montenegro, Slovenia, Georgia and Ukraine.
“We are honored to be the first international organization to officially observe the elections to the Crimean Tatar Kuraltai. The Medzhlis, the executive branch of the Kuraltai, is a respected organization that represents the interests of the almost 250,000 Crimean Tatars in Ukraine. We commend the hard work and preparations of election commissioners as well as the voters who demonstrated their interests in these elections and commitment to the democratic process by taking part in these elections” said Committee for Open Democracy Executive Director Brian Mefford. The final turnout was almost 60% of eligible voters on the voters lists.
The Kuraltai elections are conducted locally following every bi-annual Kuraltai Congress. The Kuraltai Congress –or elections to the national assembly – elects the 33 member executive body known as the Medzhlis. The Medzhlis in turn organize the local Kuraltai elections in every area where there are significant Crimean Tatar populations. The local Kuraltai elects the local Medzhlis. The Medzhlis acts as an executive body to provide leadership on social and religious issues for Crimean Tatars in each community. Under current regulations, half of the Kuraltai members are elected as individual candidates and the other half from parties and organizations that receive at least 4% of the votes on the proportional ballot. The Committee for Open Democracy was proud to be invited to participate as observers in January 2013’s most recent bi-annual Kuraltai. Elections for local Kuraltai offices will continue each weekend through the end of May with different elections in different cities and rayons. This year, the Kuraltai elections will take place for the first time in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and The Committee for Open Democracy will be there to observe the process.
Tom Nolan, President of the Committee for Open Democracy stated, “Crimean Tatars can have confidence in the election process that was conducted this weekend in the 5 municipalities in Crimea. We will continue to closely observe the upcoming elections to the Kuraltai in other municipalities over the coming weeks and provide recommendations on ways to enhance the process when the elections results are final.”
The Committee for Open Democracy is an objective, non-profit organization that monitors and observes elections internationally for adherence to democratic standards of fairness, reflecting the will of the voters. More information can be found at www.committeeforopendemocracy.org, or their Facebook page.