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    Sunday, September 30, 2007

    Early reports of violations in Ukraine

    Just a quick note to pass on a report I got from a friend who is an international monitor observing today's Ukrainian parliamentary elections. He's in the Crimea (a stronghold of the pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich) and passed along these notes:

    (Bits in square brackets are my additions for clarity's sake. My source can't be named at this point.)

    The most egregious rule breaking I've witnessed and documented to date:

    1) Voters lists being added to during the course of Election Day. I took a photo before I was prevented from taking any more pictures, interference [with the election monitoring team] which is also contrary to regulations.

    2) Russian citizens using their Russian passports to vote. Despite commision head's denial I stopped a voter who had just finished casting her ballot and admitted she was not a Ukrainian citizen.

    3) Two polling stations in which contrary to the rules thousands of ballots not fully distributed and held back in a safe to which only Party of Regions [Yanukovich's party] official had access.

    Sounds to me like more of the usual shenanigans. I'd like to hear from an observer in the west of the country if there's one out there who happens to be reading this.

    The Committee of Ukrainian Voters, an American-funded non-government organization, is also posting reports (in English and Ukrainian) throughout the day.

    Through the early hours they had observed "critical" problems with the voters lists, "occasional" instances of open bribery and, perhaps most significantly, the barring of some 570,000 Ukrainians who had recently travelled abroad because the State Border Service had not updated the voters list when they returned to the country. Despite all this, the CVU also declared that "no gross violations" had been registered as of this morning (Ukraine time).

    Turnout was on pace for 65 to 70 per cent, the CVU said. Should be an interesting day.

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