Senator McCain Statement of Elections in Ukraine
November 25, 2004.
*** Today U.S. Senator John McCain issued the following statement on the presidential run-off election in Ukraine:
“On November 21, the people of Ukraine went to the polls in a historic election to choose a new president and determine the direction of their nation. Unfortunately, government authorities denied the Ukranian people this free choice.
“The first round of elections, which took place on October 31, was marred by fraud and balloting irregularities. Rather than correcting these serious deficiencies, reports indicate that things only worsened in the second round. The International Republican Institute (IRI), which sent an election observation mission to Ukraine during both rounds, concluded that in the first round, ‘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.’ In the period leading up to the second round, IRI concluded, ‘such pressure in fact was increased.’
“According to international observers, including the IRI delegation and another led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), election day was marred by voter list problems, multiple voting, interference by unauthorized persons into the electoral process, and the expulsion of observers and journalists from polling stations. IRI found that in a number of polling stations, the percentage of votes certified by the Central Election Commission exceeded 100% of total voters.
“This is simply disgraceful. U.S. and European officials said in the weeks before the run-off that, should the government engage in electoral fraud, it would produce an inevitable deterioration of our countries’ relations with Ukraine. The U.S. Senate last week passed Resolution 473, which called for free and fair elections in Ukraine, and threatened targeted sanctions against those responsible for thwarting the will of the Ukrainian people. I believe that we will have no choice but to move ahead with such actions soon, as we reassess our relations with the political leadership in Ukraine.
“Despite the efforts of a few to deny democracy in Ukraine, freedom is not dead in that proud country. As evidenced by the thousands currently marching non-violently for a clean count of actual ballots cast, the Ukrainian people have a deep hunger for democracy. History has taught us that these yearnings cannot, in the end, be squashed by any government