The US Department of State has criticized the Sunday parliamentary elections in Ukraine as a setback to the country’s democratic aspirations.
The vote, in which Yanukovych’s ruling Party of Regions is leading with over 32 percent after 83 percent of election protocols counted, was marred by fraud, intimidation and other abuses, according to preliminary reports by international observers.
“The United States Government is concerned that the conduct of Sunday’s parliamentary elections constituted a step backwards from progress made during previous parliamentary elections and the 2010 presidential election,” Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement on Monday.
“While election day was peaceful…we are troubled by allegations of fraud and falsification in the voting process and tabulation, by the disparity between preliminary results from the Central Election Commission and parallel vote tabulations, and by the Central Election Commission’s decision not to release precinct results,” the statement said.
All major European political bodies, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, have also criticized the Ukrainian vote, which was widely seen as a test for Ukraine’s fledgling democracy, particularly given the allegations that have surfaced in recent months of authoritarianism, corruption and the jailing of political opponents.
Despite negative assessments, Ukraine’s opposition appears to enjoy greater popular support as the United Opposition’s Batkivshchyna party secured almost 24 percent of the vote and said it was ready to join forces with other opposition groupings that performed well in Sunday’s vote.
Among those are world famous boxer Vitaly Klitschko’s Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR), which scored about 13.5 percent, and the nationalist All-Ukrainian Union “Freedom” party, popular in the Ukrainian-speaking western regions, which by Monday evening secured about 9.5 percent of the vote.
Experts believe that the united Ukrainian opposition could pose a potential threat to the ruling party’s hold over the 450-seat legislature.