Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Forthcoming Elections in the Ukraine

Delivered in Plenary - October 27th 2004

Mr President

The election schedule for this Sunday is critical for the future of Ukraine. Unlike other former Soviet countries, the outcome is still genuinely uncertain and contrasts markedly with the election two weeks ago in Belarus, where a massive fraud was perpetrated on the people of that country. Nevertheless, so far in the campaign, there have been widespread allegations of bias by the authorities against the opposition front-runner, Mr Yushchenko, ranging from the use of administrative resources dedicated to backing the incumbent Prime Minister Yanukovych as a presidential candidate, to bizarre allegations of KGB-style poisoning with ricin.

Of more concern has been the harassment of opposition print media and impeded access to state and private TV coverage. There are also allegations that there have been numerous paper or technical candidates submitted by backers of Mr Yanukovych in order to distort the composition of the local election committees. In fairness, such tactics occur everywhere, are legal, and the government of Ukraine would have faced Lukashenka-style criticism if these candidates had been rejected.

There are also concerns that the polling stations set up in the Russian Federation will be very hard to monitor independently. Also, I was personally concerned to hear last weekend that two serving policemen were found to be part of the mob that physically attacked a pro-Yushchenko rally.

On behalf of the PPE-DE Group, I welcome the government of Ukraine's invitation for me to attend with six other MEPs as an observer in Kiev. I call for restraint from any action to distort the true will of the people to elect a president of their choosing. Ukraine now has an opportunity to demonstrate its commitments to free, fair and transparent elections as part of the European community of nations, where it truly belongs.