Mission Canada on Russian context in the 2019 Ukrainian Presidential Election

Mission Canada on Russian context in the 2019 Ukrainian Presidential Election
Volodymyr Zelensky (Maxim Stoyalov/Wikipedia)

Ukraine's democracy test in the light of its conflict with Russia

On April 1, 2019, the day after election day, Mission Canada 2019 issued its preliminary statement on the Ukrainian Presidential Election.

According to the statement, the election was held within the context of the ongoing Russian occupation of Crimea and the existing military aggression in Donetsk and Luhansk regions which reflected the difficulties of Ukrainian citizens living there to cast their votes. The same preexisting conditions negatively affected voting rights of internally displaced persons. Voting was not conducted in any Ukrainian diplomatic or consular services in the Russian Federation due to a Ukrainian Central Election Commission’s assessment that free and secure elections there could not be guaranteed. Meanwhile, the Mission noted that all the interviewed minority groups, including Russian-speaking, expressed “concerns of losing their national, religious or linguistic identity.” In particular, the statement underlines that a number of recently adopted laws concerning the language usage in Ukraine led to practical limitations in Russian-language broadcasting. The minority groups also “reported other challenges of increased ‘hate speech’ and occasional attacks by ultra-nationalist groups.” However, the election environment, in general, was called competitive, with candidates having been able to campaign freely. Certain violations, i.e. cases of vote buying and misuse of administrative resource, did not spoil the image of fair elections in the country.

The Presidential Elections in Ukraine were administrated on March 31, 2019. In total, 39 candidates participated in the presidential race. As reported by the Ukrainian Central Election Commission based on 97.77 % of processed ballots, actor and comic Volodymyr Zelensky got 30.26 % of votes, while the incumbent President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko got 15.92 % and the former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko – 13.38 %. As none of the candidates obtained an absolute majority of the vote required to win in the first round, the second round of elections is scheduled on April 21, 2019.

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