WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Sunday’s parliamentary by-election in Ukraine’s city of Chernigov has demonstrated that corrupt politics continues to permeate the country, US watchdog Freedom House said in a press release.
“The serious abuses that occurred before and during the parliamentary election in Chernihiv show that the corrupt politics and crony capitalism that sparked the popular revolution of 2014 remain alive and well in Ukraine,” Freedom House President Mark Lagon stated on Monday.
A member of President Petro Poroshenko's party — the Petro Poroshenko Bloc — Serhiy Berezenko won the parliamentary by-election in a campaign marred by fraud, violence and vote-buying.
“Threats of violence, attempts to buy votes, interference by pseudo-journalists, and intimidation by thugs all marred the campaign and voting in Chernihiv. Unfortunately, Ukrainian authorities failed to confront these violations,” Lagon said.
Freedom House urged the Ukrainian authorities to respond to irregularities in order to prevent such developments in the upcoming October elections.
The election, nearly a year and a half after the February 2014 coup, was saturated with physical altercations among political opponents and allegations of election fraud.
According to Ukraine’s electoral commission, voter turnout amounted to 32 percent, two times less than in the 2014 national elections.
Before voting in the by-election began, the two candidates openly attempted to sway voters by handing out free meals. Police seized duplicates of stamps from every single polling station to the district, possessed by an operative alleged to be working for Poroshenko's candidate.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights, according to its website.