BRAMA, May 5, 2004, 4:00 pm ET|
MODIFIED 5/12/04 - S. Con. Res. 106 (originally S. Res. 352)
Washington, DC A Senate resolution (S. Con. Res. 106) on the Ukrainian Elections was introduced today by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), Co-Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, together with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE). An identical version has been introduced today in the House of Representatives by Chairman of the International Relations Committee Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), together with Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA). See text below. Also included are Congressional Record statements on introduction of the resolutions by Sen. Campbell and Rep. Smith.
Note that the use of the term Ukrainian Government in the resolutions refers to all of the Ukrainian authorities ("vlada"), including the President and Presidential Administration, and not just the narrower definition of government ("uryad") used in Ukraine (i.e. the Prime Minister and Ministries).
U.S. Helsinki Commission (www.csce.gov)
Statement of Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell
Presidential Elections Critical to Ukrainian Democracy
Mr. President, as Co-Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, I introduce today a concurrent resolution urging the Government of Ukraine to ensure a democratic, transparent and fair election process for the presidential elections scheduled to be held in late October. An identical resolution is being introduced by Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Henry Hyde and my colleague and Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, Rep. Chris Smith. I am pleased to note that the Commission's Ranking Member, Mr. Dodd and the Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Biden, are original cosponsors of the resolution.
The Helsinki Commission, which has long monitored and encouraged human rights, rule of law and democracy in Ukraine, continues to be a stalwart supporter of Ukraine's development as an independent, democratic and market-oriented state. There is a genuine desire in the United States for Ukraine to succeed in this process and for the long-suffering Ukrainian people to fully realize their dreams and aspirations. This resolution, by encouraging fair, open and transparent elections, is a concrete expression of the commitment of the U.S. Congress to the Ukrainian people.
The resolution underscores that an election process and the establishment of a genuinely democratic political system consistent with Ukraine's freely-undertaken OSCE commitments is a prerequisite for Ukraine's full integration into the Western community of nations as an equal member, including into NATO. The October elections will be vital in determining Ukraine's course for years to come and they present the Ukrainian authorities with a real opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to OSCE principles and values.
Unfortunately, Ukraine's pre-election environment has already been decidedly problematic and of increasing concern to the United States and the international community. During the course of this year I have shared specific concerns with Senate colleagues, particularly in terms of the media. The resolution introduced today focuses squarely on key problem areas, including increasing control and manipulation of the media and attempts by national authorities to limit access to international broadcasting, including Radio Liberty and Voice of America. Among other concerns are the blatant obstacles to free assembly and a free and fair political campaign as well as substantial irregularities in several recent elections.
An egregious example of how not to conduct elections was the mayoral election held two weeks ago in the western Ukrainian city of Mukacheve. This election was marred by intimidation, violence, fraud and manipulation of the vote count, electoral disruptions and irregularities. Despite strong evidence indicating that a candidate from the democratic opposition "Our Ukraine" bloc had won, the territorial elections commission announced as winner the candidate of a party led by the head of Presidential Administration, Viktor Medvedchuk. That some of the abuses and violence took place in front of OSCE observers, and that some of the victims of violence were members of the Ukrainian parliament, only underlines the brazenness of these actions. The outlandish conduct of the Mukacheve elections not only casts doubt over their outcome, but when coupled with other recent problematic elections, including in Constituency No. 61 in Donetsk, could be a barometer for the October presidential elections.
The resolution I introduce today outlines those measures the Ukrainian authorities need to take - consistent with their own laws and international agreements - for a free, fair, open and transparent election process. The Ukrainian authorities at all levels, including the executive, legislative and judicial branches, need to ensure an election process that enables all of the candidates to compete on a level playing field. This includes the various institutions and agencies involved directly or indirectly in the elections process, such as the Central Election Commission, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Procuracy, the State Security Service (SBU), Tax Administration, as well as the Constitutional and Supreme Courts.
Mr. President, Ukraine's October presidential elections should be a watershed for the future direction of that country of great potential. It is abundantly clear that a small clique have a vested interest in perpetuating the outmoded status quo. Ukrainian authorities need to radically improve the election environment if there is to be hope for these elections to meet OSCE standards. The question is whether their perceived self-interest will trump the interest of the people of Ukraine. Having restored the independence of their proud land, the Ukrainian people deserve an opportunity to overcome the legacy of the past, and consolidate democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Senate resolution (text):
S. Con. Res. 106
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
Mr.CAMPBELL (on behalf of Mr. DODD) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the
Committee on ________________________
Urging the Government of Ukraine to ensure a democratic, transparent, and fair election process for the presidential election on October 31,2004.
Whereas the establishment of a democratic, transparent, and fair election process for the 2004 presidential election in Ukraine and of a genuinely democratic political system are prerequisites for that country's full integration into the Western community of nations as an equal member, including into organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO);
Whereas the Government of Ukraine has accepted numerous specific commitments governing the conduct of elections as a participating State of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), including provisions of the Copenhagen Document;
Whereas the election on October 31,2004,of Ukraine's next president will provide an unambiguous test of the extent of the Ukrainian authorities ' commitment to implement these standards and build a democratic society based on free elections and the rule of law;
Whereas this election takes place against the backdrop of previous elections that did not fully meet international standards and of disturbing trends in the current pre-election environment;
Whereas it is the duty of government and public authorities at all levels to act in a manner consistent with all laws and regulations governing election procedures and to ensure free and fair elections throughout the entire country, including preventing activities aimed at undermining the free exercise of political rights;
Whereas a genuinely free and fair election requires a period of political campaigning conducted in an environment in which neither administrative action nor violence, intimidation, or detention hinder the parties, political associations, and the candidates from presenting their views and qualifications to the citizenry, including organizing supporters, conducting public meetings and events throughout the country, and enjoying unimpeded access to television, radio, print, and Internet media on a non-discriminatory basis;
Whereas a genuinely free and fair election requires that citizens be guaranteed the right and effective opportunity to exercise their civil and political rights, including the right to vote and the right to seek and acquire information upon which to make an informed vote, free from intimidation, undue influence, attempts at vote buying, threats of political retribution, or other forms of coercion by national or local authorities or others;
Whereas a genuinely free and fair election requires government and public authorities to ensure that candidates and political parties enjoy equal treatment before the law and that government resources are not employed to the advantage of individual candidates or political parties;
Whereas a genuinely free and fair election requires the full transparency of laws and regulations governing elections, multiparty representation on election commissions, and unobstructed access by candidates, political parties, and domestic and international observers to all election procedures, including voting and vote-counting in all areas of the country;
Whereas increasing control and manipulation of the media by national and local officials and others acting at their behest raise grave concerns regarding the commitment of the Ukrainian authorities to free and fair elections;
Whereas efforts by the national authorities to limit access to international broadcasting, including Radio Liberty and the Voice of America, represent an unacceptable infringement on the right of the Ukrainian people to independent information;
Whereas efforts by national and local officials and others acting at their behest to impose obstacles to free assembly, free speech, and a free and fair political campaign have taken place in Donetsk, Sumy, and elsewhere in Ukraine without condemnation or remedial action by the Ukrainian Government;
Whereas numerous substantial irregularities have taken place in recent Ukrainian parliamentary by-elections in the Donetsk region and in mayoral elections in Mukacheve, Romny, and Krasniy Luch; and
Whereas the intimidation and violence during the April 18, 2004, mayoral election in Mukacheve, Ukraine, represent a deliberate attack on the democratic process: Now,
therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate
- acknowledges and welcomes the strong relationship formed between the United States and Ukraine since the restoration of Ukraine's independence in 1991;
- recognizes that a precondition for the full integration of Ukraine into the Western community of nations, including as an equal member in institutions such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),is its establishment of a genuinely democratic political system;
- expresses its strong and continuing support for the efforts of the Ukrainian people to establish a full democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights in Ukraine;
- urges the Government of Ukraine to guarantee freedom of association and assembly, including the right of candidates, members of political parties, and others to freely assemble, to organize and conduct public events, and to exercise these and other rights free from intimidation or harassment by local or national officials or others acting at their behest;
- urges the Government of Ukraine to meet its Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)commitments on democratic elections and to address issues previously identified by the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)of the OSCE in its final reports on the 2002 parliamentary elections and the 1999 presidential elections, such as illegal interference by public authorities in the campaign and a high degree of bias in the media;
- urges the Ukrainian authorities to ensure -
- the full transparency of election procedures before, during, and after the 2004 presidential elections;
- free access for Ukrainian and international election observers;
- multiparty representation on all election commissions;
- unimpeded access by all parties and candidates to print, radio, television, and Internet media on a non-discriminatory basis;
- freedom of candidates, members of opposition parties, and independent media organizations from intimidation or harassment by government officials at all levels via selective tax audits and other regulatory procedures, and in the case of media, license revocations and libel suits, among other measures;
- a transparent process for complaint and appeals through electoral commissions and within the court system that provides timely and effective remedies; and
- vigorous prosecution of any individual or organization responsible for violations of election laws or regulations, including the application of appropriate administrative or criminal penalties;
- further calls upon the Government of Ukraine to guarantee election monitors from the ODIHR, other participating States of the OSCE, Ukrainian political parties, candidates ' representatives, nongovernmental organizations, and other private institutions and organizations, both foreign and domestic, unobstructed access to all aspects of the election process, including unimpeded access to public campaign events, candidates, news media, voting, and post-election tabulation of results and processing of election challenges and complaints; and
- pledges its enduring support and assistance to the Ukrainian people's establishment of a fully free and open democratic system, their creation of a prosperous free market economy, their establishment of a secure independence and freedom from coercion, and their country's assumption of its rightful place as a full and equal member of the Western community of democracies.
Statement on Introduction of House resolution by Helsinki Commission Chairman Christopher H. Smith:
Rep. Christopher H. Smith
May 5, 2004
Resolution Encouraging Democratic Elections in Ukraine
Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to join Rep. Hyde, Chairman of the International Relations Committee, in sponsoring an important resolution urging Ukraine to ensure a democratic, transparent, and fair election process for the upcoming presidential election. By urging the Ukrainian authorities to abide by their freely undertaken OSCE commitments on democratic elections, this resolution emphasizes our commitment to the Ukrainian people and the goal of Ukraine's integration into the Western community of nations.
As Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, I have been a steadfast supporter of human rights and democracy in Ukraine, and I value independent Ukraine's contribution to security and stability in Europe. The stakes in the upcoming elections are high, not only with respect to the outcome, but also as a fundamental indicator of Ukraine's democratic development.
Recent events have dramatically underscored the need for this clear statement of resolve to support a truly democratic process in Ukraine. The pre-election environment in Ukraine has been discouraging, with examples of obstacles to free assembly and free speech, the limiting of access to Radio Liberty, Voice of America and other international broadcasts, and substantial transgressions in recent parliamentary by-elections and mayoral elections.
Mr. Speaker, the most blatant of these took place just a few weeks ago in the city of Mukacheve. These elections witnessed violence, intimidation, fraud and other massive violations both of the electoral code and any standards of civilized human behavior. The mayoral elections have been roundly and rightly criticized by the United States, Europe, and the OSCE. Many observers fear that Mukacheve is a harbinger of things to come. As Chairman of the US delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, I join OSCE PA President Bruce George in calling upon Ukrainian President Kuchma to ensure a proper investigation of the violations which took place and to rectify the situation so that the will of the voters is realized.
Mr. Speaker, Ukraine remains at a crossroads. Developments with respect to democracy have been discouraging over the last few years. The elections represent a real chance for Ukraine to get back on the road to full respect for the tenets of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The United States stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they strive to achieve these essential goals.
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