Kyiv, October 6, 2014. Even after the success of Maidan and the declared democratic aspirations of Ukrainians, Ukraine’s Central Election Committee (CEC) continues to operate as it did before the revolution. This was stated by former Maidan activists and current candidates to parliament during their press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The institution regularly denies or delays the registration of independent candidates on technicalities, while automatically approving the candidate lists prepared by political parties, stressed the activists. As long as the CEC continues to support favoritism over impartiality, Ukraine’s upcoming parliamentary elections will not be free or fair, they said.
“We need to take this [system] to the garbage bin and do things differently,” said Anna Kovalenko, a former member of the 39th Women’s Sotnya on Maidan and a current candidate. Those candidates with connections to the parties in power or to the CEC get registered without any problems. Even those who were Yanukovych supporters have made their way into Poroshenko’s party and other electoral lists. Ivan Yeshenko, an activist who was denied registration on a technicality, blames President Poroshenko for the continued corruption of the system. “The President is well aware of the situation,” Yeshenko stated. “They think we are just fools to be tricked by the swindlers.” Several activists described the CEC as a private club which allows candidates with the proper connections and friends to run for parliament, while blocking those deemed too independent or uncontrollable.
Other activists provided insights into the reasons behind the CEC’s repeated delays and failure to register many independent candidates. “They don’t want self-nominees because they are like a dark horse,” stated Alexander Visnyk, an activist and approved candidate. “No one can control what they do and what they say.” Visnyk also stated that there are some former Maidan activists on party lists for the elections, but that they are influenced and controlled by the political authorities. “No one needs people from Maidan there, no one needs activists there,” said Visnyk, referring to the Ukrainian parliament.
Several of the activists and candidates called for the upcoming parliamentary elections to be postponed. “The election should be postponed for a month so that everyone campaigns in equal conditions,” said Svitlana Karabut. The courts did not overturn many of the CEC decisions until it was too late, giving the newly approved candidates too little time to campaign and putting them at a disadvantage.
All of the activists agreed that the system remains largely unaltered since the success of Maidan. The political authorities and court system continue to limit the influence of Maidan activists, which they see as a threat to vested interests. The Ukrainian authorities must allow all citizens to exercise their right to run for office and influence politics emphasized the activists.