MOSCOW – Western observers on Monday slammed the conduct of Ukraines parliamentary election held Sunday, calling it a disappointment and a step backwards for democracy.
In unusually forthright language, observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticized the conduct of the campaign before the polls opened and the lack of transparency in the vote calculations after the polls closed. This election, they said, was less fair than earlier votes in the country.
Democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine, said Walburga Habsburg Douglas, leader of OSCEs group of short-term observers.
A delegation from the International Republican Institute was particularly critical of a decision by Ukraines Central Election Commission to not release precinct-by-precinct vote totals.
The ruling Party of Regions has taken a strong lead in results released so far – markedly stronger than exit polls from Sundays balloting would suggest. That sort of discrepancy led to the demonstrations that became the Orange Revolution in 2004, but street protests this time are unlikely. Analysts describe Ukrainian voters as jaded and disillusioned with all parties; turnout was 58 percent.