MCCAIN STATEMENT ON ELECTORAL FRAUD IN UKRAINE
November 2, 2004
Today U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) issued the following statement on the recent election in Ukraine:
"On October 31, the government officials running Ukraine's presidential election undertook a historic task: to show their people and the world that Ukraine has joined forever the family of democracies. With sadness, Ukraine's friends must now conclude that the government has failed.
"Reports indicate that the presidential election was marred by widespread balloting irregularities, state media bias, government interference against opposition candidates, disruption of campaign events by government authorities, and other problems. Ukrainian government officials abridged the inalienable right of the Ukrainian people to choose their leaders, and they chose raw power over democracy.
"The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which observed the Ukrainian election, called the process 'a step backward from the 2002 elections,' and said that the campaign 'did not permit fair conditions to all candidates to convey their message to the electorate.' In addition, the International Republican Institute (IRI), which deployed staff during the campaign and a team of monitors during the election, reported that 'a systematic and coordinated use of government resources on a national scale created an atmosphere of intimidation and fear designed to pressure people into supporting the government-backed candidate.' IRI found problems with voter lists, unfair practices in the creation of election commissions, and credible reports of voter intimidation.
"There is a remaining chance for democracy in Ukraine. On November 21, two candidates - Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich and opposition candidate Viktor Yuschenko - will compete in the decisive run-off. Ukrainian officials have a final opportunity to choose democracy, to do what is right for themselves and their country. While everything that has transpired thus far makes me very skeptical about the chances for a democratic run-off, that option remains entirely available. Ukrainian officials know that the world is watching, waiting to see if this process will embrace the cornerstones of democracy - free press, freedom of assembly, the right to vote, fair and transparent balloting, and the like. They should also know that choosing to deny the Ukranian people these most basic political rights will carry profound implications.
"Ultimately, it is up to the people of Ukraine to choose their leaders and their country's direction. It is incumbent upon government officials that they do not prevent the Ukranian people from doing so.'