The Head of the Committee for Open Democracy, Tom Nolan stated at a press conference on Tuesday that there had been obvious rigging at the elections in Odessa and that these had not complied with international norms. He expressed disappointment, saying that the elections could heighten Ukraine’s negative image. This assessment, he stressed, was based on a large number of infringements on Election Day itself at polling stations, as well as during the vote count and delivery of ballot papers the previous night.
Mr Nolan said that over 100 international observers know of indisputable violations of current electoral legislation and international norms in Odessa.
A number of cases were cited at the press conference.
Eric Heron from the USA said that, although he had observed elections in four post-Soviet countries, what he had seen at polling station No. 311 in Odessa was the worst yet.
According to Committee representative from Lithuania, Mantas Adomenas, both during the voting and the vote count, their observers had not been allowed into a number of polling stations. There had also been cases of intimidation and pressure on observers. He asserted that after unused ballot papers had already been packed and sealed, around 100 blank ballot papers were found for candidates running for deputy in single mandate electorates. One had the impression, he said, that this had been done deliberately. He added that members of the commission at some polling stations had flatly refused to prepare vote count protocols after the end of voting.
Mark Lewis from Australia reported that at polling station No. 147 the number of ballot papers was considerably in excess of the number of voters registered and 400% of the overall number of people voting at the polling stations.
He pointed also to irregularities at polling stations No. 311 and noted that although the polling station closed at 22.00, by 8 a.m. the members of the commission had not managed to count the ballot papers. They had only counted the number of unused and spoilt ballot papers, as well as the number of ballot papers with votes for the Mayor and deputies in majority system electorates. This, he said, could have been achieved in 2-3 hours.
Canadian observer Ron Heachy reported that members of the electoral commissions had deliberately concealed virtually any information which the international observers tried to obtain.
From a report at: www.unian.net