Ukraine is preparing for its parliamentary elections on October 28th. The main question is as old as Ukrainian history: will it be a transparent and fare election by western standards or will the ruling party use questionable methods to win their seats in Parliament? The main players in this election are the government’s Party of Regions and the United Opposition party, Fatherland (Batkivshchyna). In addition to those, there is UDAR (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms), lead by famous Ukrainian boxer, Vitali Klitschko, the Communist Party and about thirty other smaller groups. With Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister and the leader of the opposition, in prison, her party is still remarkably strong. Tymoshenko is serving her seven-year term over a gas deal with Russia and abuse of the office – charges that she denies.
The west has continued to criticize the Ukrainian government for imprisoning Tymoshenko, calling her case politically motivated. But the Ukrainian government insists that her case is a legal matter and is about breaking the law—not about politics. Nevertheless, Tymoshenko’s case probably won’t drop off the international radar any time soon, but the elections are taking place this weekend and everyone is focused on trying to make them honest—however much that’s possible within the frame of Ukrainian reality.
The government officially intends to follow the standards necessary for democratic elections. In light of somewhat strained relationship with the US and Europe, Ukraine, still leaning towards European integration, wants to make a good impression. “The most important thing Ukraine can do in the near term to improve relations with the US and EU is to hold elections that meet international standards, and that is what this government is committed to do,” Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs commented via email to Forbes. “In an extremely competitive election environment, Ukrainians are focused on choosing the parties and candidates who can best represent their interests.”
Full Article: Prison, Boxing, and Fair Elections – Forbes.