Ukraine held parliamentary elections yesterday for the second time as an independent country. The turnout exceeded all expectations. Thirty parties and blocs contested 225 parliamentary seats, which are to be divided proportionately among the slates that obtain at least 4 percent of the votes cast countrywide. Another 225 parliamentary seats are at stake in single-mandate constituencies, where the first-past-the-post wins on a simple majority and irrespective of the local turnout. Many observers expect the left to increase its parliamentary representation by exploiting the country’s economic hardships. Reliable polls are not available, and the publication of any surveys is banned by law during the last fifteen days before the election. The returns are due in the course of the week. (Ukrainian agencies, March 29)
According to preliminary reports, the Ukrainian elections passed off peacefully in Crimea, where unenfranchized Crimean Tatars did not carry out their threat to disrupt the balloting. (ORT, March 29) Those Crimean Tatars who have Ukrainian citizenship and are therefore empowered to vote did so in large numbers. The Ukrainian authorities used a combination of carrot and stick to dissuade Tatars from taking to the streets. Police in riot gear were out in force near voting stations and on main roads in Tatar-populated districts. Meanwhile, Tatar leader Refat Chubarov met in Kyiv over the weekend with Ukrainian government leaders and presidential staffers — receiving assurances that President Leonid Kuchma will take steps to speed up the procedure for granting citizenship to those deported by Stalin and to their descendants. (Ukrainian agencies, March 27)
The Monitor completes its survey of Ukraine’s political parties and movements in the context of the parliamentary elections. See the series of profiles in The Monitor, November 6, 17 and 20; December 5, 12 and 24, 1997; January 8, February 4, 10, 19 and 20, and March 18 and 19, 1998.
Ukraine’s Political Landscape: The Rukh.