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2006-03-16 15:51:00
Embassy Kyiv
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KIEV 001039 



E.O. 12958: N/A

(U) Sensitive but unclassified, please handle accordingly.
Not for internet distribution.




E.O. 12958: N/A

(U) Sensitive but unclassified, please handle accordingly.
Not for internet distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary: Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairman
Yaroslav Davydovych told Charge March 16 that Ukrainian
authorities were working hard to address the organizational
concerns that have arisen regarding the administration of
March 26 elections, specifically staffing of polling station
commissions (PSCs) and voters lists. Even though election
day would not be perfect, he predicted that the election
would still culminate Ukraine's most successful election
cycle ever, without grounds to question its legitimacy. He
said that issues about organization had been inevitable due
to the sloppiness of the election laws, which were hastily
written and adopted as part of the "grand compromise" packet
of legislation including constitutional reforms passed
December 8, 2004, as well as the lack of a national registry
upon which to base voters lists. Davydovych said that
ironically, the greatest number of the 541 non-functioning
PSCs as of March 15 were in Kyiv oblast; election laws gave
PSC commissioners the authority to issue ballots to voters
even if there were a slight mistake in transliterated names
(Russian to Ukrainian). Davydovych credited lead opposition
party Regions with being the most organized party. However,
he criticized Regions' conscious strategy to politicize
procedural shortcomings by alleging that the problems
reflected an intentional strategy of parties in power to
create problems on election day. Davydovych predicted that
the "general trends" in results of voting for the Rada would
be clear by late March 27, but that official final results
would take several more days to compile. End summary.

Problems exist, but being addressed

2. (SBU) Charge met with CEC Chair Davydovych March 16 to
discuss reported concerns about organization of the
elections, specifically inadequate PSC staffing and voter
list inaccuracies (refs A-B). Referencing the frequent
meetings held in the 2004 election cycle, Davydovych said
that the very fact that they had not met until ten days prior
to March 26 was an indication that the 2006 campaign was

going much more smoothly. Charge noted the excellent
cooperation the Embassy and CEC enjoyed and underlined our
support of Davydovych's efforts to hold the freest and
fairest elections in Ukraine's history while demonstrating
Ukraine could hold elections unmarred by administrative
resource abuses.

3. (SBU) Davydovych admitted the 2006 elections would not be
perfect. He noted that this election cycle would be the
first time in Ukraine's 15 years of independence that it
would conduct elections on a fully proportional
representation basis. That novelty created certain
complications. Furthermore, the laws on elections to the
Verkhovna Rada (national parliament) and to local
bodies/positions had been passed as part of a large package
in December 2004 that included constitutional changes as part
of the grand compromise to allow the 2004 presidential
elections to be re-run. As a result, MPs' attention to the
details of the initial legislation had not been sufficient to
properly scrub the drafts. The Rada had subsequently amended
the election laws several times to address concerns as they
emerged, most recently March 14. Davydovych emphasized that
even without the March 14 technical amendments to improve the
administration of the March 26 elections, the legality and
legitimacy of the elections should not have been under
question. The amendments simply made the organization and
administration of the electoral process easier.

PSC Formation

4. (SBU) Davydovych said that it was difficult to pinpoint
how many PSCs were non-functioning due to inadequate
staffing, since the number fluctuated daily as some PSCs
started working and others suffered from commissioners
quitting. As of March 15, he claimed that only 541 out of
34,000 PSCs were not functioning; much to the CEC's surprise,
the biggest problem seemed to be in Kyiv Oblast, with 75 of
157 PSCs in and around Boryspil not properly staffed and 67
in Brovary not staffed. In Donetsk Oblast, there were
problems in some towns, surprising since the CEC had expected
parties to be able to muster representatives there (in
comparison with more rural areas).

5. (SBU) Bill 9222, which passed March 14, permitted the
appointment of additional commissioners up to the median
level, allieviating the pressure on PSCs in which only the
minimum number for a quorum were working. Davydoych cited
two contributing factors to the staffing shortfall: the
inability of political forces to fully staff all PSCs due to
a lack of regional structures/personnel throughout the
country; and the simultaneous balloting for local elections,
stripping off many experienced commissioners who were running
for local office/councils and thus could not serve as
commissioners. Full staffing of PSCs would be the focus of a
nationwide conference call Davydovych would conduct at 1200
hours March 16 with all 225 District Election Commissions

6. (SBU) Davydovych said that he hoped the Rada would learn a
lesson from this election cycle and subsequently alter the
law so that in the next cycle, the responsibility for
staffing committees would not only fall on political parties
but be shared with local administrative structures. The CEC,
government structures, and parties should be acting as
partners from the beginning to ensure the smooth
administration of elections, he stated.

Voter Lists

7. (SBU) Davydovych downplayed the scope and significance of
the voter list problem. While acknowledging problems
existed, he emphasized that this was not a result of ill
will. Improvements to the voter lists was now the top
priority of PSCs. Regarding transliteration concerns, he
stated that the law allowed PSC commissioners to issue
ballots to voters whose name on the voter list and on
identity documents differed slightly. Regarding the "dead
souls" issue, a noted phenomenon on the 2004 voter lists,
Davydovych said that 800,000 names on the roles for the
December 26, 2004 revote had been removed for the 2006 cycle.

8. (SBU) The real issue regarding voter list improvements,
asserted Davydovych, was the lack of a national registry of
Ukrainians. Since Ukrainian law did not require registry of
all people, there was no unified data registry from which to
draw an authoritative, up-to-date voter list. Until such a
registry was established, there would always be voter list
concerns, unfortunately.

Regions playing politics, but conducting themselves better
-------------- --------------

9. (SBU) Davydovych stated that the challenge of improving
voter lists was complicated by the use of the issue as an
election-related tactic by opposition parties. Regions in
particular was claiming that the lists were imperfect due to
the purposeful intent of those in power to deny some
Ukrainians the right to vote. Davydovych predicted that even
if the numbers of affected voters come election day were
small, Regions would attempt to claim the discrepancies were
on a far more massive scale in an attempt to compromise the
government and potentially to question the legitimacy of the
results. The end-game of the campaign seem to have gotten
away from a debate about socio-political-economic issues, he
mused, reduced instead to complaints about the organization
and adminstration of the elections.

10. (SBU) That said, Davydovych gave Regions credit for being
the best organized party in terms of staffing PSCs throughout
most of Ukraine -- with the exception of areas in the west
where the party simply had no support or personnel, for
submitting the most documents, and for being the subject of
the least number of complaints about violations.

11. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website at: