By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife reporting from Uzhhorod, Ukraine
UZHHOROD, UKRAINE (BosNewsLife)– International observers have questioned Ukraine’s democratic credentials saying Sunday’s parliamentary elections were overshadowed by “a lack of transparency” and abuse of power.
The announcement by the monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) came shortly after the ruling Party of Regions claimed victory in the vote.
In a harsh statement, the OSCE said however that the October 28 ballot was overshadowed by “the abuse of power and the excessive role of money”.
Additionally observers noted a lack of transparency over how parties were financed. They claimed the ruling party had abused state resources and facilities for campaigning.
The OSCE made clear it was not surprised that President Viktor Yanukovich’s pro-Russian Regions seems likely to have secured a majority in parliament because media coverage favored him.
It concluded that “aspects of the pre-election period constituted a step backwards compared with recent national elections.”
That was in reference to Yanukovich’s election as president in February 2010, which was judged fair by the West.
The OSCE also expressed concern that the inability of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, to run as a candidate “negatively affected” the election process.
That view is shared by at least some voters in the Western Ukrainian town of Uzhhorod, including Tudor Kilaru a local television and radio presenter. “You cannot put in jail the leader of the opposition. You can do not what they are doing,” he told BosNewsLife.
“It’s going towards the Russian way of ruling,” he said.”It’s not going towards Europe but towards authoritarian rule,” Kilaru warned.
Yet Prime Minister Mykola Azarov called the election “a vote of confidence” in the Yanukovich dministration, despite a strong showing from opposition parties.
Election officials say however that only less than half of registered voters bothered to cast their ballots amid growing disillusionment with politics. (BosNewsLife’s NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key general news developments especially from, but not limited to, (former) Communist nations and other autocratic states impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals).