Saturday, 8 June 2013
Klichko Threatens Election Fraud Revolt
KIEV, Ukraine -- Vitaliy Klichko, the leader of the opposition Udar party who is expected to challenge President Viktor Yanukovych in the 2015 presidential election, warned of a popular uprising if the government resorts to election fraud. Klichko, who spoke days after opposition candidates suffered defeat at several local mayoral elections on Sunday, had alleged that election fraud was at play during the votes. He called for setting up a commission in Parliament to investigate the fraud. He also demanded immediate dismissal of governors of the Kiev and Luhansk region and the prime minister of the autonomous region of Crimea whom he had accused of organizing the fraud. “There were numerous and serious violations and fraud at the elections that took place on Sunday,” Klichko said in Parliament. “In particular, that applies to the mayoral elections in Vasylkiv, Yalta and Alchevsk.” The defeat of opposition candidates at the elections on Sunday was a personal setback for Klichko, who, as a newcomer to mainstream politics in Ukraine, needs to show his ability to rally voters ahead of the presidential election in March 2015. He also needs to be able to defend the election results in case of manipulation and fraud. Klichko called for a major election legislation upgrade that would anticipate a two-round vote at local elections. Such elections are currently held in one round, allowing the highest-scoring candidate – often backed by the government - to win the post. The ruling Regions Party managed to win all special mayoral elections on Sunday, according to analysts. The Central Election Commission is yet to release official results. Election fraud allegations were backed by some activists monitoring the vote. Olha Ayvazovska, an activist at the Opora civic action group, said at least 269 ballots appear to have gone missing in the process of vote counting at the election of mayor of Vasylkiv. The missing ballots may have had a major impact on the election outcome because the difference between Regions Party-backed Volodymyr Sabodash and Klichko-backed Serhiy Sabov is expected to be at 240 votes. "All the perpetrators of fraud must understand that the responsibility will come, sooner or later,” Klichko said, adding that a popular uprising, similar to the one currently underway in Turkey, will explode in Ukraine if the authorities try to rig the vote. “Example of that today occurs in Turkey,” Klichko said. “Any government decision that is not accepted by the people can trigger a mass protest action.” “Therefore I appeal to the authorities: do not try the patience of the people,” Klichko said.