Freedom House: Parliamentary Elections will be a test for the Ukrainian authorities

Readiness to ensure that the next parliamentary elections in Ukraine are run in accordance with OSCE standards will be a test of the Ukrainian regime’s commitment to democracy. This was the message on Tuesday from the organization’s Executive Director, David Kramer who was in Kyiv presenting the Freedom House Special Report “Sounding the Alarm: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine” at the office of the International Renaissance Foundation [IRF]. 

Concern was expressed over the influence exerted by the authorities on the electorate through such methods as damaging the political prospects of independent and opposition forces, helping to concentrate power with the ruling party, the Party of the Regions both at central level and in the regions.

The report expresses concern over the parliamentary elections scheduled for November 2012, with Freedom House seeing a key issue being what electoral system is used. It calls on the Ukrainian authorities to cooperate with the Venice Commission in preparing amendments to electoral legislation.

They also warn the Ukrainian authorities against attempts to restrict the freedom of civic organizations. One of the authors of the report, the Executive Deputy President of the Atlantic Council, Daimon Wilson, stressed that in order to meet international democratic standards, Ukraine must create a favourable legislative base for the work of NGOs. He was critical of the government’s intention to restrict foreign funding of NGOs, stressing that the adoption of such a norm would place Ukraine outside the boundaries of the democratic world. The free activities of NGOs is a keystone of a democratic society.

Yevhen Bystrytsky, IRF’s Executive Director explained that by supporting the study carried out by independent experts under the auspices of Freedom House, IRF aimed at receiving an impartial assessment of the state and trends regarding democracy in Ukraine. He pointed out that the authors had focused on the possibilities and positive ways for averting a negative scenario for the development of events. "We plan to continue supporting such assessments in the future, involving both international and Ukrainian analysts, and organizing permanent public control".

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