Monitoring of illegal interference with the process of the Presidential election in Ukraine

On March 31, 2019 in Ukraine, the first round of the regular presidential election took place. This election promises to be the dirtiest in the history of the country. The scale of violations during the pre-election period and the direct interference of the authorities with the electoral process for the sake of re-election of Petro Poroshenko is impressive.

As noted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – there is an atmosphere of intimidation today in Ukraine,therefore, citizens cannot openly discuss question of public importance[1].

All types of violations can be divided into several groups. Firstly, it is a violation of the campaigning rules. Secondly, it is the manipulation of polls. Third, interference in the electoral process. Fourth, the vote buying. Fifth, a direct change in the election results. All these factors directly violate the constitutional rights of Ukrainians.

An entire group of events that directly violate the rights of citizens and the democratic principles of the electoral process preceded the start of the election campaign.


 

Violation of the constitutional rights of citizens of Ukraine

 

The Constitution of Ukraine, as a directly applicable law, guarantees all citizens of the country the right to freely participate in elections upon reaching the age of 18 (Articles 70-71), including presidential ones. At the same time, this right was violated during these elections.

The state also did not take measures to ensure the constitutional right to universal suffrage. In particular, several million citizens of Ukraine from the uncontrolled territories of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions could not vote without registration in the controlled territory. Citizens of Ukraine from the Crimea in general were excluded from the right to vote. In addition, polling stations in Russia were not opened, and proper conditions for voting were not provided abroad in other countries.

According to the decision of the Central Election Commission (CEC) (December 2018), the polling stations were not opened in Russia, who employs several million Ukrainian “guest workers” [2], majority of which are challengers of Poroshenko. At the same time, in those countries abroad, where the polling stations were open, many voters could not vote due to red tape and poorly organized work of the commissions at diplomatic missions. In some cases, the cause was long queues[3], in other; there was an absence of citizens in the electoral rolls [4] .

The right to vote in the presidential elections in 2019 were deprived of almost 1 million people due to lack of registered places of residence [5], which was mainly related to citizens from the conflict zone in the Donbas. Thus, on February 28, the Head of the CEC of Ukraine, Tatyana Slipachuk, said that almost 40,000 Ukrainians changed the place of voting at the presidential election, 57% of whom are residents of Lugansk and Donetsk regions. At the same time, as of February 25, 2019, the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine registered 1.365 million of internally displaced persons from the Crimea and Donbas [6].

According to the CEC, the number of voters on the list was 29,468,783. The printed number of ballots for the first round of elections was 30,028,913. However, the number of voters who received ballots in the presidential election was 18,711,933. Thus, 10,756,850 voters did not vote. At the same time there is no statistics, how many people did not find themselves in the lists. [7] . Such statistics vividly illustrates the ability of Ukrainian citizens to exercise their constitutional rights.

Dariusz Rosati, Head of the European Parliament (EP) election observation delegation, made a statement following the first round of presidential elections in Ukraine and mentioned “the clearly imbalanced and unequal access of candidates to media”, which was “reinforced by biased coverage of certain candidates and of the campaign; the lack of genuine debate between candidates;the process remained too cumbersome, lengthy and difficult for too many voters to register or vote, which are internal labor migrants and Ukrainians who live abroad… he noted cases of vote buying and of misuse of administrative resources, the questionable neutrality of some high-level officials due to their campaign activities[8].

Special mention should be made of the situation with the debate between presidential candidates. Thus, since the announcement of the results of the first round of elections, there was a real epic of the debate between their leaders. The Law of Ukraine “On the Election of the President” regulates the conduct of televised debates within the framework of the second round, providing for their broadcast on UA:Pershyi, operated by National Television Company of Ukraine (NTU) and The First Channel, operated by the National Radio Company of Ukraine (Article 62). At the same time, there is no specification on the location of the debate.

On April 3, the candidate Zelensky proposed to hold them at the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv with the obligatory preliminary undergoing of full drug tests by the candidates [9]. At the same time, NTU announced the debate on its air on April 19 [10].

For two weeks, presidential candidates cannot decide on the final location of the debate. In this case, it is important to note that the candidates deliberately manipulate the venue of the debate, since the NTU rating is negligible in the eyes of the public, holding an event under the authority of Public broadcasting makes no sense.

It is worth mentioning that Poroshenko and Zelensky jointly launched a manipulative campaign for “testing”.Candidates passed tests at the same time (April 5), but in different organizations – Poroshenko in the medical center of the stadium “Olympic”, and Zelensky in a private clinic [11]. Moreover, later, Poroshenko was asked for another test, at VADA, an independent and authoritative international organization and Poroshenko got tests again (April 10) [12]. Zelensky did not participate in the retesting. The issue is that VADA is a volunteer organization, and differs from WADA, which undergoes the anti-doping tests from athletes before official competitions [13] .

For a long period, the candidates could not determine the time of the debate. Moreover, Poroshenko’s team turned it “into a show with the pursuit of the fearful Zelensky”. At the same time, Poroshenko, without an invitation, broke into the air of the TV channel “1+1” (April 11), for which the CEO of the TV channel promised to sue him [14].

Poroshenko and Zelensky with a difference of three hours held meetings in Paris with the President of France (April 12) [15]. On April 14 Poroshenko held a meeting with his supporters in front of the Olympic Stadium, which he defined as a “debate with Zelensky”, while knowing well that the other candidate would not come. During this meeting, the public sector workers were engaged again, and Zelensky was again insulted in every possible way and accused of ignoring debates [16]. Before this (April 12) Zelensky announced that he would come to the debate with Poroshenko at the Olympic Stadium on April 19 at 19:00 [17]. As a result, on April 16, the offices of presidential candidates Volodymyr Zelensky and Petro Poroshenko agreed to lease the Olympic NSC stadium for  debates on April 19 [18] .

All this is a consequence of the fact that the current government has led to the degradation of political discourse in the country, when preparations for the second round of presidential elections becomes similar to a comic series, in which one character actively pursues another, rather than discussing important political issues. From a global point of view, this situation not only destroys the constitutional rights of Ukrainians, but also humiliates them.

 

 

Violations of the Law of Ukraine “On Presidential Elections”

 

According to the Law of Ukraine “On Presidential Elections” (“OPE”), the election campaign begins the day after the registration of the candidate for President (Article 57). At the same time, a year before the start of the election campaign, the political consultants of the office of the current president, Petro Poroshenko, launched his election campaign with the thesis “army, language, faith”, which since August 2018 have been simultaneously pasted over many billboards all over Ukraine [19]. It is important to emphasize that this advertisement of the current President was placed free of charge, under the guise of social advertising [20].

Then, all the power of the administrative resource began to put into practice these Poroshenko`s theses in violation of the rights of citizens. At first, a policy was started on making a “state” church, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, unrecognized by other Orthodox churches. To this end, elements controlled by the President were mobilized in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, as well as the diplomatic corps. As a result, several times violating the canonical principles and legislation of Ukraine (separation of church and state, signing an agreement with the Patriarchate of Constantinople on behalf of the state, allegations of discrimination of the UOC) Poroshenko organized a UOC, to which they began to involve by force separate parishes of the UOC, despite a firm position on the non-alignment of priests and parishioners of the UOC.

Moreover, President Poroshenko used religion for his own agitation. Thus, he traveled around the country in the so-called “Tomos-tour” during which represented the UOC and emphasized his importance in this process.

In order to implement the thesis “language”, a draft law was developed on the Ukrainization of all spheres of life in Ukraine, which discriminated the millions of citizens from national minorities, primarily Russian speaking. Its adoption. It is a contribution to the second round of the presidential election.

An attempt to use martial law to disrupt the election date is aimed at implementing the thesis “army”, building up the general situation of “fighting the aggressor” that requires rallying around the “national leader”, declaring all its competitors as “agents of the Kremlin”. Thus, the current government has arranged a real public hysteria and has actively begun to persecute all dissident citizens.

Before the official start of the election campaign, political horoscopes were spread throughout the country, which “campaign” (actually, manipulate at a subconscious level) for the incumbent President [21] (violation of Article 57 of the “OPE” Law).

In January 2019, in a number of regions of Ukraine (Melitopil, Sumy, Khmelnitsky) a so-called “sociological survey” regarding the willingness to vote for the current President Poroshenko was hold. Formally, it was conducted not by the office of the candidate or his party, but by the public organization “Institute for the Development and Promotion of Democracy” (established in December 2018) [22]. As the journalists found out, employees of municipal institutions were actively involved in conducting such a survey for a fee. According to “OPE” Law (part 6. Article 64), it is prohibited to enter into contract with the electorate for carrying out election campaigning at the expense of the electoral fund. In this case, under the guise of a sociological survey, hidden campaign activities are actually carried out, outside the expenses of the electoral fund.

From February 7, the day of registration as a presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko until March 20, 2019 there were made 19 trips to the regions of Ukraine. The next logical question is the following: the person who travels around the country is a presidential candidate or President. Are these the activities of the head of state or the election campaign of the candidate? At the same time, Poroshenko flew around the country on state aircraft and other transport [23]. February 12 – Odessa region, February 14 – Kharkiv region, February 18 – Ivano-Frankivsk region, February 23 – Lviv region, March 4 – Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv regions, March 9 – Cherkasy, March 11 – Zhytomyr region [24]. At the same time, Article 56 of the “OPE” Law prohibits the presidential candidate to use official vehicles, work relationships, subordinates, property.

Poroshenko’s trips to Ukraine could really be business trips of the President – if not for the mass meetings with local residents who look exactly like the meetings of the presidential candidate with their voters. And if these activities were paid from the election fund of Petro Poroshenko, as required by Article 37 “OPE” Law, then there were no questions. Nevertheless, they are funded entirely from other sources. For example, the TV program “Our money”(“Nashy Hroshy”) with reference to the system “Prozorro” reports that the Department of Economic Development of the Dnepropetrovsk Regional State Administration on March 1 concluded an agreement with the self-employed individual Molotov A.G. for holding the Forum “Regional Rada. Strategy 2019″ that costs 2.50 million UAH. In particular, at least ten buses were allocated to transport people from the regions. Petro Poroshenko took part in this event during his visit to the Dnipro on March 4.[25] .

Article 65 of the “OPE” Law does not grant the candidate – the current head of state with the right to electoral leave. The President is invited to campaign “on the job”, but without the involvement of subordinates and work events. At the same time, this rule is directly violated. Thus, during the forum “From Kruty to Brussels”, which was a frankly pre-election event, since it was there that Poroshenko announced his nomination for a second term. The forum was held on January 29, on Tuesday, that is, on a working day – and it was attended by many officials from all over Ukraine [26].

During the election campaign, Poroshenko visited the military units for 3 times: Poroshenko visited 95th assault airborne brigade during his trip to Zhytomyr to join contract soldiers for a housewarming party (March 11, 2019 [27]). During his visit to the Azov Sea region, he awarded the fighters of the 79th assault airborne brigade (March 1, 2019) [28]. On the “Azov” base on the Svitlodar arc (March 14, 2019) [29]. At the same time, Article 64 “OPE” Law presidential candidates from visiting directly prohibits military units.

Article 64 of the “OPE” Law explicitly prohibits executive authorities and officials from participating in election campaigning during working hours. The exception is valid only for those officials who are presidential candidates. That is, Petro Poroshenko personally has the right to tell during working hours that he is a successful head of state — but he cannot specifically gather people and hold some events with the involvement of his subordinates to organize these events. At the same time, this rule is violated. Thus, the chairperson of Kherson Regional State Administration A. Gordeyev, speaking to teachers and medical staff of the Genichesky district, directly stated: “Who will protect Ukraine, as President and Supreme Commander? I think only Poroshenko. You can write down that this is my agitation and sue me,” said Gordeyev [30].

In the regions that President Poroshenko visited in January-March 2019, regional development councils were held, in which representatives of local self-government and executive authorities took part. According to the “OPE” Law (part 1 of Article 64), the campaigning conducted by these persons is prohibited. In addition, voters are spreading a campaign package in support of the President with a proposal to write a letter to the President as the head of the Rada of Regional Development. This package is accompanied by an appeal in support of the initiatives of the President of the Governor of the relevant region. Such cases were recorded at least in Zaporizhia, Rivne, Vinnitsa [31].

In January 2019, Head of the State bureau of Investigation came Roman Trumpet came to support the nomination of P. Poroshenko for presidency. By law he is head of unbiased agency, which in theory has the right to open proceedings against the President [32].

In February-March 2019, Ukrainians on behalf of President Poroshenko send out campaign letters in which they talk about a bright future and recruit extras for his rallies. At the same time, the letters contain information that not all the envelope materials were made for budget money. If so, then this is the official campaign product. However, the CEC does not know anything about it.   At the same time, according to Article 3 “OPE” Law Campaign, propaganda products can be made either by the candidate’s election fund or by the state budget. The total circulation for Kharkiv, Transcarpathia, Kramatorsk and Khmelnitsky amounted to almost a million copies [33].

Campaigning in favor of Poroshenko is present in the buildings of the state (Irpen, Kyiv region) [34] and municipal institutions (Kryvyi Rih) [35], which violates Article 64 of “OPE” Law.

The work of agitators from candidates is paid despite the legislative prohibition (Article 64 p. 6 of “OPE” Law). Thus, you can find the relevant applications on the ads website [36], this is confirmed by the practice of investigative journalism [37].

In March 2019, the Central Election Commission of Ukraine increased the number of ballots in the first round of elections by 263,000, although there was no objective increase in the number of voters in the register [38], on the contrary, their number should decrease, considering the data of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, due to the general decrease in population. It can also be a reserve for fraud.

The very formation of the election funds of presidential candidates in Ukraine was opaque and had all the signs of fictitiousness in violation of Articles 41-43 OPE Law. In particular, these facts were revealed by investigative journalism in relation to the teams of Yulia Timoshenko [39] and Yuri Timoshenko [40]. The national police opened criminal proceedings based on investigative journalism.

There were direct evidence of buying voters in violation of Article 64OPE Law in the form of so-called “nets”. Most actively, this element was used by Poroshenko office [41]and to a lesser extent – Timoshenko’s office [42]. The national police is investigating criminal proceedings on the possibility of buying voters. The office of presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky conducted a buying of voters through the free provision of goods or services, namely tickets to a concert in Mykolaiv [43]. Also in favor of Poroshenko there was carried out the illegal provision of free medical advice to citizens [44], as a form of bribery.

In Donetsk [45] and Khmelnitsky regions [46]  there are facts of direct “conviction” by threats of employees of budgetary institutions to vote for the incumbent President (in violation of Article 64 of the OPE Law).

In a number of cases, there was agitation by subjects who are directly prohibited by the Law, for the incumbent President: there were in Mykolaiv, at a meeting of the Rada of Regional Development, on March 15, by Minister V. Omelyan [47], in the Chernivtsi region, on March 11, by the first vice-speaker I. Gerashchenko [48], in the Kirovograd region on March 2, Poroshenko’s campaign materials were posted on the official websites of the DSA and RSA [49]. On March 6, Mayor of the Lysychansk city conducted campaigning in favor of Yulia Timoshenko at a session of the City Council in the Donetsk region [50]. Mayor of the town of Hlukhiv Michel Tereshchenko openly agitates in favor of the candidate Smeshko in his own print media Hlukhiv Post No. 7 [51] (in violation of Article 64 of the “OPE” Law).

In preparation for the second round of elections, Poroshenko’s supporters actively disseminated deliberately false information that candidate for presidency Zelensky was a drug addict [52], which violated Article 64 “OPE” Law.

On the part of the candidates Hritsenko, Kaplin, Murayev, Sadovy, Shevchenko, Nalyvaychenko, Bogomolets, there were violations related to the manufacture and use of campaign products in violation of Article 58, 59, 63, 64 ”OPE” Law. National Police draw up a number of administrative protocols [53].

 

 

Violation of the criminal code of Ukraine

 

There is revealed a whole group of violations in the form of vote-buying (Article 160 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) by journalists [54] and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine [55]. First, the so-called “net” was launched – buying up the votes of low-income citizens to vote for Poroshenko under the guise of issuing financial assistance to them. Data collection was carried out through government social assistance agencies. [56] .

First, in a number of regions of Ukraine (Kyiv, Odessa, Chernihiv, Khmelnitsky, Sumy, Lugansk, etc.) in January 2019, a so-called “sociological survey” regarding the willingness to vote for the current President Poroshenko was hold. [57].

Then, people who have expressed support for the current President Poroshenko are offered the opportunity to receive additional social payments from the state. The money for social assistance programs, which are approved by local and regional councils, is given to those who are on the “white list” of Poroshenko’s potential supporters. In the Mykolaiv region, 70 million UAH were allocated from the local budget for these programs, 90 million UAH in the Odessa region, 140 million UAH in the Dnipropetrovsk region. [58]The Kharkiv regional program initially provided 18 million UAH for 2019, and then the decision of the regional council session (December 6, 2018) increased the amount to 50 million UAH. [59]. “From all over the country comes information about the massive bribing of voters – the distribution of so-called “material assistance”, money and products on behalf of the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko. Such facts are recorded on photos and videos, ”the ex-deputy and public activist Yegor Firsov wrote on Facebook and published a video [60].

On March 30, the public project “Carousel-2019”, which talks about buying votes in the presidential elections, published the scheme of the “net” of Petro Poroshenko in the Dnipro.[61]

In March 2019, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that they tried buying the electoral votes of pensioners in Kyiv, the Kyiv region and other regions for the fund of the budget program. “I will give an example of one criminal case, which is being investigated in Vasylkiv, Kyiv region. We are talking about buying votes… One of the offices of the pro-government team hires agitators; they choose one hundred people, usually the poorest ones, go to their apartments and ask if they are ready to support the candidate and, if so, they offer to help. Out of a hundred people, 30 says “yes, we are ready.” They write down names of these people, go to the district council or social services with a list and tell the head of the district council or the mayor to give these people a thousand hryvnias. Using the tools of the program “Turbota” which is budgeted”, – said the Minister [62].

In February 2019, the recipients of the minimum pension in the Odessa region were asked to write an application for the provision of one-time financial assistance in the amount of 1000 UAH [63], representatives of civil society organizations also determine that as an attempt to buy voters. The launch of a large-scale campaign to provide one-time financial assistance to the general population during the election process can be considered as a kind of abuse of financial administrative resources.

In February 2018, there were facts of buying voters through social networks with the further holding of the action in the city of Kropivnitsky, where they were supposed to transfer payment for the “right” candidate. National Police opened criminal proceedings [64].

In February 2019, Interior Minister A. Avakov announced a search for a case of buying voters by the office of Petro Poroshenko, the so-called “net”. The Minister confirmed that the buying is being carried out at the expense of the state budget. In total, one and a half billion hryvnia will be allocated for these purposes [65].

On February 22, the Interior Ministry representatives detained several representatives of the so-called “nets” of President Poroshenko in Sumy region [66]. Interior Minister A. Avakov, in an interview with one of the Ukrainian media, stated that deputy head of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc in parliament Serhii Berezenko was involved in violations of the electoral legislation. [67] .

Total for the end of February 2019, according to the data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, there were 50 cases involving buying of 74 criminal proceedings for electoral violations in total [68].

In January 2019, state employees in a number of Ukrainian cities were awarded cash bonuses along with greeting cards from Poroshenko [69]. This is an open bribe to voters and the use of an administrative resource.

In addition, in the Odessa region, the activity of the “Mobile Polyclinic” was fixed, which provides free medical examinations and consultations to patients under the auspices of President Poroshenko. In the villages of the Lviv region, residents were invited to discuss the village development plan on the initiative of the President. Such activities bear signs of indirect agitation for Petro Poroshenko as a potential presidential candidate [70] .

In addition, the so-called monetization of subsidies became the quasi-sub-buying of voters, when instead of virtual money that could only go to pay utility bills, citizens began precisely from March 2019 – just before the first round of elections, instead of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dates (May 2, 2019), to obtain these sums in their hands [71].

The advantages of managing financial resources and the possibility of using them to influence the results of the will of citizens are in conflict with the basic principle of elections – equality,” the civil network “Support” said in a statement [72] .

On February 21, the SSU conducted more than 50 searches in various regions in connection with the creation of so-called “election pyramids”, saying that they were suspected of being created by a member of the Batkivshchyna party. Also in the SSU stressed that Russian agents are  part of the organizers of this “pyramid” [73].

On February 22, the State Bureau of Investigations initiated criminal proceedings against one of the deputies from BYuT on the basis of allegedly sanctioned secret investigative actions of the SSU (wiretapping) in the case of vote-buying [74].

On March 20, in Dubno, Rivne region, law enforcement officers detained a participant in the bribe-taking network for one of the presidential candidates, who was described as “candidate Yu” [75].

In March 2019, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, not far from the office of the presidential candidate and showman Volodymyr Zelensky, identified listening devices belonging to the SSU [76].

Suspicious manipulations occur with the Registry of voters of Ukraine. Thus, their number suddenly increased: in the early elections of 2014, when Poroshenko was elected, there were 34.6 million people in the voter list, and in January 2019, there were already 35.6 million. Thus, the number of voters by the March 2019 elections was suddenly increased by a million. Although data on mortality and population says that this cannot be possible: according to the State Statistics Service, the population of Ukraine is only falling – in January-October 2018 Ukrainians decreased by 188 thousand [77]. As stated by the head of the election office of Anatoly Gritsenko, Mykola Katerinchuk: “There are many inaccuracies in the voter lists, they have not changed since 2015, since the last election. Nearly 1.5 million “dead souls” will be able to vote if we cannot remove them from the voter lists”. According to Katerinchuk, leaving 1.4 million “dead souls” on the voter lists (or 4% of the total number of all voters) was an instruction of the Presidential Administration [78]. Due to mass migration to Europe, to Russia, there are much more voters on the register than they are actually. Moreover, not all of them will be able to come to the polls abroad (and the CEC, who lives in the Russian Federation, directly prohibits it). An attempt by Gritsenko’s office, first through the CEC, and then through the court, to gain access to a copy of the voter register in order to analyze it for the presence of “dead souls” was rejected [79]. In March, in Vyshgorod, Kyiv region, a man who died in November 2017 became the secretary of the election commission [80].

The possible manipulation of the election results is also focused to the including representatives of the SSU controlled President to the groups ensuring the transfer of information about the election results to the CEC. By decision of the CEC, the groups should stop work on March 28 [81], but by the decisions of the district commissions themselves, their presence is extended until the day of voting and data transfer to the CEC [82]. The very presence of representatives of special services at polling stations is not allowed by any legislation of Ukraine. That is, as a result, representatives of the SSU, controlled by one of the presidential candidates of Ukraine, will have access to transfer data to and from district commissions on election day and may influence these results.

There are journalistic data on the manufacture of parallel voter lists and the collection of their personal data for electoral fraud [83] .

On March 28, 2019, journalists described preparations for falsifying the results of presidential elections through electronic media. It is noted that the manipulations are prepared at several levels at once – both in the precinct election commissions (PECs) and when sending information from district commissions (DECs) to the Central Election Commission. It is indicated that, in particular, it is planned to replace the data in the process of their transfer from the DEC to the CEC using the technology called “tunnel”. Specialists in the field of IT-technologies explained that we are talking about Tunnel IPsec. In fact, this is an encrypted data transmission channel that can be used to substitute numbers. “How it will be implemented technically, generally, does not matter. The main thing is that between the DEC and the CEC there is another electronic intermediary, where the data are deformed and go to the CEC like that”. It is noted that frauds are being prepared in favor of the current President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko [84].

According to the Ministry of the Interior, from the beginning of the electoral process and as of February 22, 1,741 allegations and reports of irregularities related to the electoral process were registered. For the most part, these facts were related to illegal agitation (1102), the vote-buying (130), damage to property (130) and hooliganism (27). The police opened 77 criminal proceedings, of which 39 relate to violations of electoral law, and 38 – on the facts related to the election campaign. In addition, law enforcement officers made 401 administrative protocols on violations in the electoral sphere [85].

During the entire campaign, cases of damage to campaign materials and billboards of presidential candidates, as well as campaign tents are recorded [86]. In a number of regions, representatives of right-wing groups “C14” and “National Corps” reported about the facts of damage to billboards of opposition candidates (A. Vilkul, E. Muraev) through their pages on social networks.

There were also reported cases of an attack on the campaign tents of candidates Anatoly Gritsenko (Mykolaiv, February 8), Yulia Timoshenko (Lugansk region, February 16), the Narodny Front party (Kyiv, January 23).

On February 22, in Vinnitsa, unknown persons smashed the windows of the front door of a public reception of the party Petro Poroshenko’s Block “Solidarity” [87].

On February 19, presidential candidate O. Bogomolets stated that the head of her election office in Odessa was intimidated, and routed an apartment. Unknowns climbed into the apartment of her trustee, Irina Yarotska, everything was smashed there, but they did not take anything [88]. In Kyiv, on the night of March 27, unidentified persons burned the car of the trustee of the candidate for the office of President of Ukraine, a deputy of the Kyiv City Council from the All-Ukrainian Association of Volodymyr Nazarenko “Svoboda” [89]

In February 2019, after the publication of the information on the work of Poroshenko`s Net on the website “Strana.UA”, according to the media, a cyber-attack was carried out on the website by the forces of the SSU. This violates the Law “On Security Service of Ukraine” and the Criminal Code [90].

The staff of the Security Service of Ukraine in the Donetsk region held “preventive” conversations with the agitators of opponents of the current President [91].

At the same time, activists controlled by the authorities wreck the rallies of other candidates and attack them. Thus, on February 9, 2019 in Kyiv, activists of “C14” under the control of the SSU tried to wreck the rally of candidate Yulia Timoshenko [92]. Presidential candidate O. Gritsenko accused the SSU in attacking him in December 2018, in Odessa [93]. During the campaign, presidential candidates reported cases of physical violence against staff members and themselves. Thus, in January in Kyiv, the cars of the staff of O. Gritsenko were fired at [94]. In February, the presidential candidate of Ukraine from the association “Opposition Bloc – Party of Peace and Development” O. Vilkul was poured with brilliant green at a meeting with voters in Berdyansk [95].

The SSU is putting pressure on opposition presidential candidates. On January 15, deputy N. Savchenko, who is in the detention center, said that the SSU was preventing her from registering as a candidate for the post of President of Ukraine. She noted that law enforcement officers do not allow her to meet with a notary in the detention center, that makes it impossible for her to issue documents for registration [96]. In February, O. Vilkul wrote on his official page on the Facebook, that he was haunted by the staff of the Ukrainian Security Service [97]. On February 7, 2018, the presidential candidate of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, addressed the National Police with a statement about the recorded facts of spying on him [98]. In March 2019, 73 heads of the primary party organizations of the political actors of presidential candidate Yulia Timoshenko in Zaporizhzhya were summoned for questioning in the SSU [99]. In Zhytomyr, representatives of the Batkivshchyna party also said that over 100 of their representatives had already been summons for questioning, and another 300 are planned to be summons [100].

On March 30, on the day of silence before the presidential elections in Ukraine, the National Police of Ukraine received 159 reports of violations of electoral legislation. Most violations were recorded in the capital. For example, 79 applications to the police are related to illegal election campaigning, two cases are hooliganism, one is a threat of physical violence, 69 relate to other facts [101] .

 

 

Pressure, manipulation and other

 

On the eve of the election campaign, Ukraine’s state policy was aimed at restricting freedom of speech and opinion significantly.

The National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting, at the expense of its functions of licensing and imposing fines, remained a tool of pressure on independent media in order to gain a loyal editorial policy towards President Poroshenko.

For example, in contrast to the previous campaigns the VRU have not adopted a resolution on a moratorium on media inspections during elections. Therefore, the National Council appoints unscheduled checks on the opposition TV channels “Nash” (“Our”) and “112 Ukraine”. There are introduced “black lists” of candidates and experts who are not invited to certain TV channels and are not published in the media [102]. The regional print media actively publishes smear campaign against presidential candidates. Thus, in February, an article against the candidate Volodymyr Zelensky was posted in several printed regional publications [103].

The key election campaign body, the Central Election Commission, is formed in such a way that 10 of its 16 members are oriented towards the current president. There is not a single representative of the opposition faction – the Opposition Bloc. It should be noted that the entire leadership of the CEC is directly affiliated with President Poroshenko people. Thus, the head of the CEC celebrated the New Year with the President and the presidential candidate Poroshenko [104], which directly indicates an existing conflict of interest.

The government attempted to set up the same controlled majorities in 199 district and 30 thousand precinct commissions[105]. At the same time, understaffing, the lack of a quorum and a change in the representatives of candidates remain constant problems for the PECs [106]. In a number of commissions, there is no lawyer. A week before the second round of elections, one of the candidates (P. Poroshenko) did not submit a large number of his representatives to the composition of election commissions, which could lead to aborting elections[107].

Experts note that a number of 44 candidates registered for the first round of the elections do not have any electoral support rating and look like “write-in candidate” in comparison to larger participants in the election race. In addition, a “duplicated candidate” was registered against one of the opposition leaders (a candidate with a similar last name and initials “Yu. Timoshenko”) [108]. An attempt to establish through judicial proceedings the numbering of candidates for their clearer identification was rejected [109]. With the help of members of district and precinct commissions of “write-in candidates”, the main candidates can manipulate and create profitable composition of the leadership of the commissions. The relevant facts were published in March 2019 by journalists [110].

The authorities are trying to manipulate all sorts of civic organizations observing the elections.. Thus, on February 12, 2019, “The Committee of Voters of Ukraine” called on the presidential candidate, showman Volodymyr Zelensky to pay for the “Servant of the People-3” from the election fund, evaluating the series as an election campaign [111]. And on February 13, journalist A. Dubinsky published evidence that this was done by the CVU on the order of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine [112].

In the elections, they actively use fake news technology. Thus, the candidate Yu. Timoshenko at the end of March 2019 reported that two structures were investigating against President Poroshenko — OLAF — the European anti-corruption office, and the British SFO — the Serious Fraud Office. However, the next day, this information was refuted by both organizations [113]. On March 24, fake messages appeared in the media that on the day of presidential elections in Ukraine on March 31, representatives of military commissariats would be at each polling station. Representatives of the military commissariats will check the documents of all men of military age [114]. The purpose of this message is to bring down the voter turnout in the elections.

In January 2019, in fact President P. Poroshenko  carried out his election campaign  with Tomos from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the priests from the OCU (the so-called “Tomos- tour” to Rivne [115], Vinnitsa [116], Lutsk [117], Zhytomyr [118], Cherkassy[119], Kyiv region [120], Kharkiv [121], Ivano-Frankivsk[122] and Lviv [123]). During the “Tomos- tour” as noted by journalists, the spectators were specially taken by bus [124].

Also, in February-March 2016 P. Poroshenko conducted a pre-election tour of the cities of the country with the use of the administrative resource. As a rule, participants of the campaign meetings of the candidate Poroshenko are transported there in a centralized way. Only people listed in the pre-compiled lists can enter the specially fenced and guarded by police zone. Ordinary voters, as well as journalists, are not allowed to Poroshenko’s meetings[125]. In January 2019, journalists of the publication “Strana.UA” were not allowed to Poroshenko’s forum, during which he would announce a campaign to the elections [126].

During the 2019 election campaign, the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting continues the practice of appointing checks to opposition television channels. In addition, a number of candidates reported the presence of their names in the “black lists” of people who are not invited to certain TV channels and are not published in the media.

The campaign is also characterized by broadcasting defamatory information (“smear campaign”) against opponents on TV channels owned by candidates or persons close to them (for example, the “Zashkvareni” cartoon series on close to President Poroshenko “Pryamiy” TV channel) [127].

Presidential candidates actively use “bot farms” in the election campaign. P. Poroshenko’s office is particularly active in this and has mastered the practice of manipulating in social networks with special paid employees, who are called “porokhobots”. Their task is to justify and support their candidate with the help of talking points, lowered from the office, defame all others, diminish or exaggerate the importance of news, that is, manipulate public opinion.

For example, on January 18, 2019, from the very morning, all social networks were full of discussions around an investigation into the Russian business of companies associated with Volodymyr Zelensky. “Bots” were actively involved to the discussions, sometimesappealing to the same arguments [128].

       

 

Monitoring of actual violations on election day of the first round of elections and counting its results

 

The first round of elections on March 31, 2019 passed with violations that did not significantly affect the overall results of the elections, but which enabled the pro-government candidate Poroshenko to reach the second round with a difference of 2% from third place.

The following violations were recorded on March 31:

On the night before the elections in the Lviv region, the head of the precinct commission in Kamenka-Bugska spoiled 180 ballots with the stamp “Eliminated” after talking with an unknown person [129].

At the specified time (8:00), seven polling stations did not open in Ukraine [130].

The observer was not allowed to enter to polling station No. 070091 in the village of Novostav, Gorokhivsky district of the Volyn region [131]

In the Chernihiv region, a man threw a petrol bomb in one of the polling stations [132].

The deputy of the Volyn regional council, Oleksandr Omelchuk, witnessed how a woman at a polling station in the village of Didichi of Kivertsov district noted in her own list of voters people who had come to vote. Subsequently, the deputy’s car was blocked, his mobile phone was torn out and he was threatened [133].

Near the sites were seen people who stood with some paper lists. This is the grassroots and the most massive link in the “net” – agitators and their coordinators. In the Dnipro district of Kyiv, at station number 800316, two observers were detained from Poroshenko’s office. The police were called after suspicions that both organized a controlled vote – they found lists of apartments and instructions for campaigning.

There are many such cases in the province. Controlled voting in favor of Poroshenko was recorded in Zaporizhia. A woman was discovered who gave out money to the voters. Her list was taken away, but she ran away. She picked up the car. 10 persons from this list managed to vote. Members of the commission know many people – these are neighbors. One of these neighbors said that he was given 250 UAH and he voted for Poroshenko. The list is a little over 300 people. Supposedly, the pluses are putted for people agreed to vote, and the minuses are where there is none. The head of the commission explained to the observers that she did not go to the police on the fact of buying-vote, because it was happening outside the polling station [134].

Groups of people who were on duty with voter lists near polling stations were also seen in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Volyn, and Kherson regions. For example, in the Chernihiv region observers recorded people who are on duty near the sites with lists of agitators in their hands. The woman who was called the elder had a list with the names of agitators and supporters [135]. And sometimes it comes to excesses: activists begin to chase people with lists by force. It happens that voters from the list are brought to the polls in an organized way – so that they do not run away [136].

In Lutsk, on a special voting station 071102 (district 22) at the premises of the regional psychiatric hospital, each voter was given 2 ballots. The PEC members reported to the observers that they were given such instructions by the district commission [137].

There are violations related to photographing a ballot (to get money for a photo) and an attempt to remove the ballot from the site for the same purposes. In particular, in Zhytomyr, in PEC No 181445, the head and observers recorded how the voter made a photo of the ballot in the voting booth. “Photographer” was taken to the police to draw up a protocol. The Mayor of Zhytomyr Serhii Sukhomlin and the head of the Zhytomyr Regional State Administration Igor Gundich also decided to make a “selfie” with a ballot near the ballot boxes. The observer from the “Uspіshna Varta” in Kyiv gave the police a statement about a crime committed by a blogger Miroslav Oleshko, who made and posted on the social network a photo of the ballot with a mark, which intentionally violated the secrecy of the vote [138].

At one of the polling stations in Kyiv in the Dniprovskiy district, a female employee of the commission found a pen with ink that disappears. According to representatives of the commission of the polling station, this unusual pen with a surprise was threw to them by unknown persons [139].

Turnout indicators of a part of the voting stations, especially in the Donbass show an abnormal tendency to increase compared with 2014. That may indicate the stuffing of ballots for residents of uncontrolled territories present in the lists.  For example, there are such famous separatists as Givi-Tolstiy and Zakharchenko [140].

There were violations at the voting stations abroad – in the embassies of Ukraine. Thus, in fact, there were no observers, and when the activists of the NGO “Countering Electoral Fraud Office” in Madrid and Düsseldorf tried to go to the polling stations, they were rudely prevented from entering. In addition, a number of cities refused to declare intermediate turnout figures [141].  

Another mass manifestation of fraud – the issuance of ballots without an internal passport. This violation varied in different ways – in some cities it was allowed to vote with pensioner’s identity document, foreign passport or as in one village in Transcarpathia they gave ballots just for coming – because “we already know each other here” [142].

In Transcarpathia, at one of the polling stations in Uzhgorod, a voter published on a social network a photo of his ballot, that he made in an election booth with the inscription: “Shoot everyone except candidate X”[143].

In Zaporizhzhya region (district No 74, precinct 230905), the voter intentionally pulled off the seal from the ballot box [144].

In Chernivtsi region (district No 202), at the polling station in the Vyzhnytsky district, one person received two ballots: by maiden name and surname after marriage [145].

Often there were problems with the lists of voters. In Kyiv (district No 194, polling station 710981), a woman could not find herself in the voter list, although she had received an invitation and had previously voted on this polling station. The same problem occurred in Rivne on precinct 560983. In Lviv (district No 117, precinct 462061), cadets of the Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi National Ground Forces Academy could not find themselves in the electoral lists, although previously received an invitation from the appropriate PEC [146]. In all regions, there have been cases when voters did not find themselves on the lists or vice versa, they found the data of their dead relatives (the so-called “dead souls”). In addition, observers recorded cases when the commission, for formal reasons, refused to to vote at the place of stay (at home) for those, who had previously filed a corresponding application [147].

Representatives of precinct election commissions demanded citizens to provide data on their place of registration upon presentation of an ID card. That was a frequent violation [148].

At 18:00, photo recordings of signed protocols of district commissions appeared. For example, in Kyiv region [149]. In Dobropillya, Donetsk region, the head of the precinct election commission made the members of the commission sign a blank paper[150]However, it is required to sign the protocols after the closure of sections.

The polling station in Ismail due to an error in its seal was closed until 17:30 [151].

An unknown woman approached members of PEC No 480911 at the entrance to the DEC No129, introduced herself as a member of the district commission and said that they urgently needed to give her a package with protocols on the counting of votes at the polling station. The woman’s face looked familiar to the PEC chair, so she handed over the package. Which she tore up and, taking one copy of the protocol, ran away [152].

Mass violations recorded in Toretsk, Donetsk region. The election observer from the Strong Communities group in district commission No 52 reported that a large-scale ballot stuffing was carried out in favor of President Poroshenko in Toretsk. Activists report that unknown people took ballots at polling station number 140702 and fled. “Your new city” also published a photo of the thrown in bulletins. Valentina Yerimicheva. The representative of the presidential candidate Yurii Karmazin published a video from polling station number 140704 in Toretsk, in which she shows a neat pack of thrown ballots in favor of Poroshenko [153].

According to “Uspіshna Varta” observers, on the election day representatives of the SSU were present in the server rooms in a number of electoral commissions, but facts of significant intervention were not recorded. At the same time, after 90% of the protocols were submitted to the CEC, a number of DECs recorded delays in the introduction of protocols, including because the system did not accept the data. In this regard, conflict situations were recorded (for example, in the Kyiv-Svyatoshinsky district of Kyiv, district95). The intervention of the security forces in the electoral process including at the stage of entering data into the IAS “Elections” is unacceptable. The presence of employees of the Security Service of Ukraine and the Cyber ​​Police in the server rooms of the commissions in the second round of voting should be under close attention of Ukrainian and international observers [154].

The NUJU also recorded facts of aggression against journalists. Thus, on the square in front of the Central Election Commission, young men did not allow the journalist of the Russian TV channel “Rain” to take the plot, accusing him of distorting the facts and roughly pushing the journalist out of the square [155].

As of 19:00, one hour before the end of the voting, the police reported about 1.7 thousand violations: illegal campaigning – 122; photographing ballots – 109; vote-buying – 40; ballots damage – 31; false mining reports – 18; attempt to remove a ballot from a polling station 11[156] .

Many falsifications were also recorded when calculating the results of the first round of elections:

According to the counting results, in a number of districts there were anomalies that mathematically indicate a change in voting results. For example, in Toretsk and Pokrovsk in the Donetsk region there are abnormally high results of 30% or more for Poroshenko, with his overall results for the region at 8% [157]. “Islands” of strange victories of the President in the region, where he, to put it mildly, is not liked, are also found in other cities of the region. There are polling stations with 63.9% and 61.3% for Poroshenko in Bakhmut, with 27.8% and 41.3% for him in the city of Volnovakha. Other polling stations where Poroshenko won were in the village of Shcherbinovka, where Poroshenko unexpectedly received 47.7%. In the village of Petrivka, the President received 66.9%, in the village of Oleksandro- Shultynske – 39%, in the city of Druzhkivka – 70.2%, in the village of Zaitseve – 36.5%, in Ocheretino – 53.5%, in the village of Novoselivska Persha 51.5%, in the village of Pokrovske – 69.8%, in the city of Yalta – 46.6%, in the city of Urzuf – 73.2%. At the same time on a nationwide scale Poroshenko gained 15.9% of the vote. And his support in the Donetsk region, according to a February poll of the Rating agency, did not exceed 7%. That is, the explosion of popularity of the current President here is a real anomaly [158].

In the Donetsk region, members of one of the territorial election commissions appealed to the police about the violation of the electoral process in the presidential elections in Ukraine. According to them, the data transmitted to the CEC on the distribution of votes among presidential candidates of Ukraine do not coincide with the information provided on the official website of the CEC [159].

At the voting station in Konstantinivka in the Donetsk region in the calculation was recorded the fact of throwing a pack of ballots from one candidate to Poroshenko [160].

In District No 46 in the Bakhmut district, a stuffing of unissued ballots was established during a rash from ballot boxes and an increased turnout [161]. “Carousel” was recorded at polling stations 140616, 140612 and 140613. According to the voting results, 40 statements were made to the police. Human rights activists claim that the mayor Oleksii Reva and his son Dmytro were engaged in fraud. The official repeatedly gathered his deputies, secretary and other subordinates, heads of local housing authorities, and Chief Medical Officer. At such meetings, Reva allegedly instructed how to vote and work on election day[162].  

In the village of Zaitseve, Bakhmut district, electoral district No 51 includes only two polling stations. Half of the settlement is controlled by the military-civil administration, half is under the control of the so-called “DNR”. The IDPs who predominantly voted in this district, according to members of the commissions, are under the influence of the administrative resource of local authorities, social services and the civilian-military administrations. For example, 64 IDPs who cannot move independently and live most of the time on uncontrolled territory, after visiting members of the election commission, all, as one, cast their votes for Poroshenko .

Residents of the Yasinovatsky district located near the line of demarcation are also under pressure from the civilian-military administration. The members of the commissions confirm the fact of commissioning Poroshenko’s protocols, but they are afraid to file a violation in the form of an act or statement. In Nikolsky and Volnovakhsky districts (district No 60), a deputy from BPP Dmytro Lubinets carried out serious pressure on heads of enterprises and organizations, and Oleg Reshetnyak, head of the district administration of Nikolsky district, actively “helped” the deputy . Voters also reported buying votes at a price of 500-1000 hryvnia for “one vote” [163].

Transportation of election documentation from PECs to DECs was carried out by means turned out to be at hand (as a rule, these were garbage bags). Such transportation caused packet damage and confusion with the documentation. Recall that the CEC did not conduct an advance tender purchase of boxes for transporting documentation. At PEC No 19, Volodymyr-Volynsky, three cases were recorded in which PECs handed over unsealed envelopes with ballots; two PECs who were sent to clarify the protocols had an attempt to rewrite the protocols directly at premises of the DEC [164].

At the final stage of the counting of votes, conflicts arose due to the slow process of accepting documents from the PECs in the DEC. Some DECs interrupted the meeting on the morning of April 1 to continue accepting documents in the evening. Such a situation is fixed in Zhytomyr, Kramatorsk. Conflict situations arose in a number of district commissions due to delays in receiving documents in district commissions (for example, in DEC No 21 of the Volyn region, DEC 95 in Kyiv-Svyatoshinsky district of Kyiv, as well as in Ternopil)    [165].

 

 

Monitoring of actual violations in the framework of election campaigning for the second round of presidential elections in Ukraine

 

Campaigning for Poroshenko by the OCU continues. On April 9, the OCU stated, “All those who vote for comic figure Zelensky will burn in hell. Amen and glory to God!”[166].

In April 2019, the deputy chair of the Verkhovna Rada, Oksana Syroid, stated that the OCU priests receive instructions about prayer for the victory of a particular candidate in the presidential election. In addition, according to Syroid, pressure is being exerted ftom Bankova on military units. “There is very alarming information about the pressure on military units, because there are a lot of military people who voted for Zelensky, as well as in all budget institutions” [167].

In April 2019, the Ukrainian public organization “Vidsich” began to post leaflets in Kyiv against Zelensky. Moreover, they have a direct relationship with the authorities. For example, one of the participants of the action Artur Perevesiyev on Facebook indicated that he was an employee of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, and had previously worked at the National Security and Defense Council [168].

On April 7, the Peacemaker Center appealed to the National Security Council of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine about financing the election campaign of presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky and intervention by the aggressor country in the electoral process in Ukraine [169].

According to representatives of non-governmental organizations, before the second round, citizens will have to go through the procedure of changing the place of voting again. Given the complexity of this process and the massive queues faced by voters in some cities in the last days before the end of the statutory period for changing the voting place (5 days before the election), it is necessary to provide at the legislative level the possibility of changing the voting place by 2 rounds of elections at once. Also, at the legislative level, it is worth returning the possibility of registering voters on the day of voting by a court or district commission. In general, voter lists need considerable clarification [170].

On April 9, 2019, a political advertisement appeared in Kharkiv with the image of Poroshenko and Putin and the slogan of the campaign Poroshenko: “April 21 is a decisive choice” [171]. On the one hand, this contradicts Poroshenko’s statements on April 8, about the erroneousness of the slogan “Either Poroshenko or Putin”[172], and on the other hand, violates the Law of Ukraine “On Advertising”: Article 8 – It is prohibited in advertising: to place an image of an individual or use his name without the written consent of that person. In addition, Article 64 – Restrictions on the conduct of pre-election campaign 1. Participation in pre-election campaign is prohibited: 1) to persons who are not citizens of Ukraine.

Poroshenko`s “Nets” are intensified again. Thus, on April 5, 2019 in the city of Vyshgorod, Kyiv region (TEU No 96), local activists discovered the office of the current President Petro Poroshenko, where voters were given out 1,000 hryvnias each. The office was located in the Privatbank building, inside of which people with passports and money were found. It is reported that a large number of different staff documents were also found, including the originals of the protocols of the local electoral commission with wet seals [173]. One of the Ukrainian bloggers also published documents that show the work of the “net” in the favor of the current President P. Poroshenko in Kyiv region. The documents indicate the leaders and “foremen” of the net in the region, as well as the amounts that the “volunteers” received for campaigning in favor of the current President (we recall, according to the law, the payment of volunteers is prohibited) [174].

An active campaign to discredit the candidate Zelensky is carried out on television channels affiliated with Poroshenko (“The Fifth” and “Pryamiy” [175]) and by the so-called “porokhobots”. They try to show Zelensky as a drug addict [176], accusing him and his surroundings of having links with Russia and its special services [177], Poroshenko and his office call Zelensky “Kolomoisky puppet” [178].

Trying to discredit Zelensky, the office of Poroshenko declares him a “clown” who is unable to govern the country. From Poroshenko’s office, direct threats to Zelensky are sent. Thus, on their website (April 10) a video was published, where Zelensky was hit by a truck [179]. At the same time, the threats to the life of Zelensky have every reason. Thus, on April 15, a group of persons with a large-caliber machine gun that is listed as 8th regiment of special forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine [181] was detained by the Interior Ministry near the place of Zelensky residence [180].

 

 

Conclusion

 

The electoral company for the presidential election in 2019 was distinguished by numerous facts of violation of Ukrainian legislation, in particular, the Constitution and the OPE Law.

These violations can be defined as systemic by the current President Poroshenko, who created a system of bribing poor layers of voters in the form of a “net”. He also actively used the administrative resource for illegal campaigning, in particular in military collectives; state and local officials used state vehicles for free for campaigning around the country; state employees were organized in order to create campaigns and create extras, state organizations were illegally used in election campaigning by a religious organization.

The government were putting pressure on inconvenient media that included multiple checks of opposition publications and attacks against the servers of such publications using the SSU opportunities.

The government also did not take measures to ensure the constitutional right to universal suffrage. In particular, several million citizens of Ukraine from the uncontrolled territories of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions could not vote without registration in the controlled territory. Citizens of Ukraine from the Crimea in general were denied the right to vote. In addition, polling stations in Russia were not opened, and proper conditions for voting were not provided abroad in other countries.

All this as a whole, enabled the pro-government candidate to go to the second round by a small margin on the third place.

Preparation for the second round of voting by the efforts of the authorities, using smear campaign and bot farmыwas turned into a comedy series with repeated drug tests, accusations of the opponent of drug addiction, clownery, work for the benefits of Russia and oligarchs, and persecution with the purpose of holding debates for debate.

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