Canadian election observers sent to Ukraine to monitor repeat elections in five ridings that saw election fraud in 2012 have found irregularities, the observer team said, putting in doubt the legitimacy of the ruling party’s victory in those ridings. President Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of Regions won four of the five open seats in Sunday’s election despite the vote taking place amid the biggest anti-government protests the country has seen since 2004. The election findings also came as Yanukovich signed a $15-billion loan deal with Russia, a move that protesters had been mobilizing against for weeks. The elections in the ridings — which were so marred by election misconduct in 2012 the national election commission could not even compile results — were again beset with irregularities, including vote buying, Canadem, the election observer group, said in a release Monday on their preliminary findings. The group said it was “unable” to determine whether the elections “met international democratic standards.”
Canada, which sent a 500-person team to monitor the 2012 elections, sent 26 observers to monitor Sunday’s vote, including Conservatives Ted Opitz and Russ Hiebert, and Liberal Stephane Dion.
Election observers witnessed the misuse of press credentials by candidates; election workers not properly checking ID; the presence of campaign materials during the blackout period where no campaigning was allowed; voters who were not on a voter list voting; the presence of unauthorized people inside polling stations; a lack of proper procedures being followed during vote counts; and “insufficient transparency” in the behaviours of district election commissions, whose membership is predominantly made of ruling party supporters.