On February 3, the Ukrainian Central Election Committee closed the registration of documents for presidential candidates for the elections on March 31. There are for now 89 applicants willing to compete for the presidency in Ukraine.
The Central Election Committee has refused 22 applicants out of 89 and there could be more rejections as the final number of candidates officially registered by the Committee will be announced on February 8. But the number of aspirants running for the title of the Ukrainian president is still way too high, even if only the 28 candidates already vetted.
A possible explanation for this state of affairs was given by the deputy of the Kiev City Council Petro Kusik. He claimed that such a large number of presidential candidates leads to the disorientation of voters.
On top of that, technical representatives make it possible to influence the work of such commissions. Thanks to Ukrainian legislation, each candidate for the presidency has the right to send representatives to the regional and district election committees to directly participate in the vote organising process.
This rule of Ukrainian law is a gold mine for those candidates who have the best intentions to compete for the presidency and who do not feel too squeamish about dirty tactics. It is quite simple: technical candidates provide influence levers at the level of local voting stations for the real candidates.
Meanwhile, officials have been releasing statements that do not really correspond to the requirements of both transparency or objectivity.
The Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko stated that he would not allow any Russian observer crossing the border into Ukraine. He emphasized that he has issued a personal order to the Ukrainian Border Service to stop every Russian citizen from entering into Ukraine as an observer, even if these Russian citizens are members of the OSCE international mission.
Moreover, first Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian parliament Irina Gerashchenko promised to enshrine within Ukrainian legislation the prohibition against Russian citizens observing any of Ukraine’s elections.
Such a barefaced enmity against Russia certainly does not contribute to an imgae of a “democratic and tolerant” Ukraine. The aggressive approach looks even more desperate against the background of the elections which took place a couple of months ago in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
This little break-away country has been suffering from repeated shellings by the Ukrainian army for almost 5 years now. People there have enough reason to feel extremely resentful against Ukraine. But instead of nourishing hatred, they have been implementing smart diplomacy.
Thus, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Donetsk People’s Republic Natalya Nikonorova noted during the election campaign that representatives of the Ukraine, on completion of all the legal requirements, could follow the elections as observers.
Certainly, there is a chance that Ukrainian authorities intend to do everything to hold free and fair presidential elections, transparent and corresponding to international standards. But Ukrainian leadership should be asked what their reason is for hiding democracy from Russians. Would it not be better to teach Russians a valuable lesson?