Weekly overview of the Ukrainian media between October 20 – 26, 2015

Local elections in Ukraine
First local elections after the Maidan revolution were held in Ukraine on October 25, 2015. The citizens were casting their votes for city mayors as well as members of local and regional councils.

Elections were not held in Russia-annexed Crimea as well as in the temporarily occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions where de-facto authorities are representatives of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR) and “Luhansk People’s Republic” (LPR).

Internally displaced persons from Donetsk and Luhansk regions as well as from Crimea were not entitled to voting unless they had official registration. Only a few internally displaced were able to re-confirm in court their right to vote in the local elections.

Elections derailed in Mariupol and Krasnoarmiysk. 839 local election commissions are functioning in Donetsk region. Ballots have been delivered to 604 polling stations. Ballots have not been taken to 235 local election commissions, 205 of which were located in Mariupol. Voting did not start in Mariupol in the morning as incorrect ballots were discovered at polling stations. As a result elections were cancelled in Mariupol. Same situation occurred in Krasnoarmiysk. President ofUkraine Petro Poroshenko made it clear that elections in Mariupol and Krasnoarmiysk were rescheduled and are due to take place by the end of the year. President Poroshenko is asking the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament) to set a new date for Mariupol elections by the end of this year.

Elections derailed in Svatove (Luhansk region). City election commissions of Svatove on its session at 15hrs announced invalid elections to the Svatove city council and detected that those liable for printing the ballots with mistakes are members of the local election commission.

Elections at the frontline. Only seven polling stations were opened in Stanychno-Luhansky district of Luhansk region. In those Ukraine-controlled towns and cities of Luhansk region, where elections were not held, the civil-military administrations will take up functions of local authorities instead of district and city councils.

Election observers. 83 Ukrainian NGOs and 1554 international observers representing 14 countries and 14 international organizations were monitoring the election process.

Exit polls. Director of Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation Iryna Bekeshkina noted that the foundation is not going to hold all-Ukrainian exit polls on October 25. It is due to lack of respective projects running and lack of funds for holding the polls.

Nevertheless, some organizations have conducted respective exit polls locally commissioned by the Voters Committee of Ukraine. Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk need to get ready to the second round of the mayor elections, while cities of Kharkiv and Vinnytsia already know the names of the alleged future city mayors. The incumbent mayor of the capital city Vitali Klitschko has received 40.4%, and he is the leading candidate for a mayor. In the elections to the Kyiv City Council the Petro Poroshenko Bloc party gains 28%, Samopomich party – 10.3%, Batkivshchyna – 10,1%, Svoboda – 9.7%, Yednist – 8.5% of the vote. In the Kharkiv mayor race, incumbent mayor Hennadiy Kernes is leading by a large margin. His result is 59.3% of the vote. In the runoff race in Odesa, the incumbent mayor Hennadiy Trukhanov faces Advisor to Head of Regional State Administration Oleksandr Borovyk. Trukhanov received 47.6% of the vote. (Exit polls results in key Ukraine’s regions, in English).

Parallel count of votes (Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa, Kharkiv). On the elections day over 3000 observers of Opora Civil Network were conducting the parallel count of votes at elections of the city council and of mayor in Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa and Kharkiv.

Voters Committee of Ukraine in its report on campaigning results noted that over 1800 violations of voting legislation were registered before the elections day. Eighty percent of violations related to placement of campaigning materials and those of technical nature that do not seriously influence the course of elections. Massive violations were registered on the “silence day” – the day before the elections. Voters Committee of Ukraine developed a map of hotspots – places where serious violations of election process were spotted. Twenty cities were mapped as “hot spots” where the problems observed included technical side of elections organizing, criminalization of election process and fierce competition among the candidates.

According to the Voters Committee of Ukraine the elections on the voting day in general complied with free and democratic standards with exception of some territorial communities. In Dnipropetrovsk and in Kyiv region the number of violations was much higher than the average number acrossUkraine.
Voter turnout is 46,62%, respective data was published on the web site of the Central Election Commission. Maximum voter turnout figures were registered in Ternopil (56,50%) and Lviv (56,31%) regions. Over 50% of voters also turned up at polling stations in Volyn, Vinnytsia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Rivne and Khmelnitskiy regions. In Kyiv 41,87% casted their votes. Lowest voter turnout figure was registered as expected earlier in Donetsk (31,65%) and Luhansk (35,27%) regions. Voter turnout by regions, infographics in Ukrainian.

Local authorities in major part of Donetsk region can be formed by the democratic forces not by the pro-Russian “Opposition Bloc”, wrote Head of the Donetsk State regional civil-military administrationPavlo Zhebrivsky. “By uniting into a coalition democratic parties will be able to form a majority in 2/3 of city and district councils of Donetsk region,” he stated. According to his data only in three territorial units local councils are to be formed by the majority of “Opposition Bloc” representatives.

Situation in ATO zone
Militant group members are demonstrating aggression and are making provocative attacks on the positions of ATO forces using small arms, large-caliber machine guns and grenade launchers, said Major General Borys Kremenetskiy, Head of the Ukrainian side at the Joint Coordination and Control Center for ceasefire and stabilization of the contact line (JCCC) in a statement released on October 25. Militant groups are thus trying to provoke Ukrainian troops to return fire and violate the Minsk agreements. Ukrainian side has notified the OSCE Mission of the above violations.

Over the last week one Ukrainian serviceman was killed in action, three were wounded after they hit an explosive device and three more were wounded in action in a militant attack. Militants violated ceasefire in the area of Pisky village at night on October 24 – 25 using small arms, grenade launchers, anti-aircraft mounts and large-caliber machine guns. Hostile attacks on Ukrainianpositions near Shyrokyne, Opytne, Pisky and on the outskirts of Donetsk were registered over the past week.

OSCE SMM re-visited three sites to which the Ukrainian Armed Forces had withdrawn their equipment and weaponry. The SMM registered all earlier withdrawn equipment pieces present at all sites (full report in English). Monitors also confirmed that the equipment earlier withdrawn to the so-called “DPR” storage sites was on its places while a Grad system was missing from one of the so-called “LPR” storage sites.

International organization Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) was notified by the so-called humanitarian committee of the self-proclaimed “DPR” that their “accreditation was revoked and its activities need be immediately ceased” in the occupied territories, organization’s spokesperson Sibylle Berger told journalists in Geneva. The organization is accused of espionage.

Ukrainian Armed Forces completed the first stage of equipment and weaponry withdrawal in the Donetsk sector as part of the Minsk agreements implementation. Equipment and weaponry in question were withdrawn at least 15 kilometers away from the contact line, reports Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. Ukrainian side has withdrawn tanks (photo report).

OSCE SMM reported to have finally made it to Debaltseve for the first time in two and a half months. The observers noted empty streets and visible traces of damage.

Human rights
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Center for Civil Liberties (CCL, Ukraine) report exposes severe atrocities perpetrated by various armed groups against the civilian population in Eastern Ukraine. These new documented human rights violations may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity and need to be urgently investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC). FIDH and CCL presented their report at a press conference in Kyiv on Friday October 23 and voiced the recommendations on how to ensure a full and impartial investigation of crimes committed in Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict (Report in English).

Occupied Crimea
National leader of Crimean Tatars, President’s Envoy on Crimean Tatars issues Mustafa Dzhemilevrules out a military way to return Russia-annexed Crimea to Ukraine. In his opinion such a scenario might negatively influence the entire Black Sea region.

Mejlis Head Refat Chubarov said that the civic initiative for Crimea blockade will help resolve the “Crimean issue”. Chubarov mentioned that he is discussing the peninsula blockade at the international level, as a result an international mission might visit Crimea.

Economics
S&P analysts forecast that Ukraine’s actual GDP is to decrease approximately by 15% in the end of 2015 after a 6,8% decrease last year. The analysts also expect a 2% economy increase next year, 3,5% increase in 2017 and 4% increase in 2018 respectively. Growth rate for consumer prices will go up by 55% this year after 12,2% increase in 2014, the agency’s experts say. Inflation is to slow down to 20% in 2016 and is forecast to reach the 14% level in 2017 and the 9% level in 2018.

Ukraine’s Ministry for Economic Development and Trade says exports of Ukrainian goods to the EU member states decreased by 33,9% (USD 7,16 billion equivalent) over January-July compared to the similar time period in 2014. According to the Ministry among the reasons of the downturn in exports are the war in eastern Ukraine, change of prices on European and international markets, economic situation in the EU and Russia’s embargo on imports of certain categories of goods from the EU.

Ukrainian gas storage facilities are storing 16,831 billion m3 of gas as of October 26, which is 2% higher than last year’s figure, reports Ukrtransgaz.

Gradual increase of industrial production following collapse in the beginning of the year is yet another indicator that Ukraine’s economy is gradually restoring. Industrial production started its way out of recession in the beginning of summer. The level of industrial production over January-September 2015 was only 83,4% compared to the similar figure in 2014. It may well be explained by the loss of the industrial region of Donbas.

English-language materials

Video

Elections day in Kyiv.

Elections in Mariupol were cancelled.

Reportage

Elections on the frontline

No elections in the villages around Mariupol

Mariupol residents are indignant on not being able to vote

Ukrainian writer Serhiy Zhadan wins Polish Award Angelus.

“Ukraine has got time until November 9 – EU-set deadline to sort things out with the judicial reform. Otherwise there will be no visa liberalization.”

Ukrainian ghost town hopes for a new life: Kyiv post story about Orbita town in Central Ukraine.
Interviews
“Elections show lack of progress”: Hromadske International interviews Head of Chesno civic initiative Oleh Rybachuk.

“After Putin’s war Ukrainians refute Russian values”: Ukraine Today interviews Anne Applebaum.

Anarchy is Ukraine’s historic matrix”: Hromadske International interviews writer Andriy Kurkov. He shared his views on Ukrainian political system, electoral habits and elections in the front line areas.

“The role that the war in eastern Ukraine plays in the new Ukrainian literature”: Ukraine Today interviews Dana Pavlychko, Head of Osnovy publishing house speaking on the Frankfurt Book Fair.

“Stripping the internally displaced of their voting right at elections is a human rights violation”: Hromadske International interviews Olha Ayvazovska, OPORA Coordinator.

“Outcomes of elections that were annulled in Mariupol”: Hromadske International interviews Kostyantyn Batozhsky political analyst of Azov regional development agency.

Analysis
Top 10 facts on the October 25 elections.

“Low voter turnout in Odesa analyzed”: Hromadske International interviews Olha Tymoshuk, Hromadske Odesa journaist via Skype

English-language video digest by StopFake. This week’s digest includes the false report of news website Russkaya Vesna that Angela Merkel predicted there would be no future investmentcoming into Ukraine. The Russian news agency Sputnik published an article alleging why US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland had attempted to pressure the Ukrainian government. The Russia television network Zvezda posted a fake report on its website about Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s accusations of sexual harassment towards the leader of the Batkivshchyna political party, Yulia Tymoshenko. And a bogus photo depicting a Ukrainian soldier kissing an American flag has been popularly spreading on the web over the last months.

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