Eugenia Tymoshenko in Strasbourg, May 2012

In an open letter to the Ukrainian President and the country’s authorities, Eugenia Tymoshenko, the daughter of the imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, appeals for her mother’s life. The opposition leader has now been imprisoned for over one and a half year, and it’s a dark picture that her daughter describes. (more…)

Election-monitoring has traditionally been linked to the events on Election Day, determining whether the process was fraudulent or fair. But as authoritarian regimes get keener on their impression abroad, they are becoming more sophisticated in the methods they use to stay in power. Last year’s elections in Ukraine and Venezuela are two examples investigated in a recent Freedom House article. (more…)

Walburga Habsburg Douglas and Matteo Mecacci outside the hospital in Kharkiv

Walburga Habsburg Douglas, who led the election observers from OSCE PA in Ukraine and the Italian MP Matteo Mecacci were today denied meeting the imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. The State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine said that the refusal is due to Tymoshenko’s hunger strike in protest against the vote rigging. Its the second time that Walburga Habsburg Douglas is denied to meet with the imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko, after an earlier attempt in Mars this year.

Read more on OSCE PA:s webpage

After Sunday’s parliamentary election in Ukraine, the international election observers point out a number of facts that obstructed the opposition parties’ chances of running successful election campaigns. “Considering the abuse of power, and the excessive role of money in this election, democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine,” said Walburga Habsburg Douglas, who led the OSCE election observation mission in the country, at a press conference Monday afternoon. (more…)

Tuesday, September 11, the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation hosted a well-attended seminar on the upcoming Ukrainian parliamentary election. Hrihory Nemyria, vice party leader for Batkivschchyna and former deputy prime minister together with Eugenia Thmoshenko, daughter of the imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko, presented their views on the current political situation in the country. The seminar was moderated by the Swedish MP Walburga Habsburg Douglas and is available here at the JHS homepage. (more…)

The American organization FreedomHouse has published two reports about the political situation in Ukraine. The first report was published in April 2011, Sounding the Alarm: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine A Freedom House Report on the State of Democracy and Human Rights in Ukraine. In the report Freedom House warned that Ukraine was heading in the wrong direction on a number of fronts: consolidation of power in the executive branch at the expense of democratic development, a more restrictive environment for the media, selective prosecution of opposition figures, worrisome instances of intrusiveness by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), widely criticized local elections in October 2010, a pliant Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament), an erosion of basic freedoms of assembly and speech, and widening corruption.
Read the report

A follow-up report was published July 2012, Sounding the Alarm Round 2: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine. FreedomHouse states that most of those key concerns from last year remain, and “in some cases the problems have grown considerably worse, especially in the area of selective prosecution of opposition figures and corruption”. Still, there are some hope for a change in this year’s elections: “civil society appeared more animated and less dispirited this year compared to last”. The parliamentary elections scheduled for October offer a critical test for the government to demonstrate its commitment to democratic principles, comments Freedom House.
Read the report

In newsletter no. 5/2012 you can read about a number of important elections that will take place during the fall of 2012: In Belarus, Ukraine, Venezuela and Georgia.

Hopes run high that the elections in Georgia will be entirely up to international standards. Expectations are also raised that the (almost) united opposition in Ukraine will breathe fresh life into the country’s dwindling democracy and that Henrique Capriles win the presidential elections in Venezuela. Though, the hopes are low for the elections in Belarus, where President Lukashenko is further cementing his authoritarian regime.

Read the newsletter

Stephen B. Nix, Director of Eurasia programs at the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Washington DC, testified on May 17 before the U.S. Helsinki Commission, on the political situation in Ukraine as the country prepares for parliamentary elections in October 2012. Mr. Nix highlighted the backsliding of democracy that Ukraine has witnessed under President Victor Yanukovych. “If left unchecked, the trends set by Ukraine’s current leadership will move the country toward greater centralization and consolidation of power—that is, toward authoritarianism,” Stephen Nix stated.

Read about the testimony on IRI:s home page

During the weekend representatives of the Ukrainian opposition held a political forum in the centre of Kyiv.  The attending parties discussed the final draft of a resolution representing the united opposition before the upcoming Parliamentary elections. The participants condemned repressions and the deteriorating democracy in Ukraine. The meeting also criticized the situation for human rights in Ukraine, the government’s economic policies, especially those that have led to soaring taxes and an unfavourable pension reforms. (more…)

The Croatian President Ivo Josipovic last week joined European leaders who will not attend a Yalta summit in mid-May. The Croatian president’s office said that one of the reasons for the decision is suspected human rights violations in Ukraine. The news comes after a foreign ministry spokesman in Ukraine said on April 30, that the presidents of Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Slovenia has informed Kiev that they will not attend the Yalta meeting of Central and Eastern European leaders on May 11-12.

The boycott of the Yalta meeting reflects mounting concern over the hunger striking opposition leader and the treatment of her in jail. Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced last fall to seven years imprisonment for abusing power while she was in office. She has denied the allegations.  (more…)