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Former U.S. Congressmen visit Ukraine - February 2006 Delegation

2004 Delegations:  July  |   August  |   September  |   October  |   November  |   December
2006 Delegations:  February  |   March

From February 19-26, 2006 a delegation of six former U.S. Congressmen visited Kyiv and smaller communities throughout the Kharkiv oblast to observe the campaign process leading up to the March parliamentary and local elections.  The delegation consisted of William Franklin (R-MS), James William Grant (D/R-FL), Herbert Klein (D-NJ), Michael Kopetski (D-OR), William Martini (R-NJ) and David Minge (D-MN). 

The delegates meet with Hryhoriy Nemyria, advisor to Yulia Tymoshenko
with Nemyria
Their visit was sponsored by the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) in partnership with the United States Association of Former Members of Congress (USAFMC), and with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  A second delegation will travel to Ukraine to observe the actual vote on March 26, 2006.

During their first day in Kyiv, the delegation met with representatives of several leading political forces, including Hryhoriy Nemyria, advisor to Yulia Tymoshenko, Yevhen Kushnariov, campaign manager for the Party of Regions, and Roman Bezsmertny, campaign manager for Our Ukraine.  They also met with U.S. Ambassador John Herbst and Deputy Head of Mission Sheila Gwaltney.

The delegates meet with Yevhen Kushnariov, campaign manager for the Party of Regions
Meeting with Kushnariov

Over the next three days, the delegation was split up into three groups and traveled to 17 communities in the Kharkiv oblast: Balaklia, Bohodukhiv, Chuhuiv, Derhachi, Kolomak, Krasnohrad, Krasnokutsk, Liubotyn, Merefa, Nova Vodolaha, Pechenihy, Pervomaisk, Shevchenkovo, Valky, Vovchansk, Zmiiv and Zolochiv.  The delegates met with local government officials, representatives of political parties and the mass media, district and polling station commissioners.  They also had the opportunity to interact with campaign workers from various parties and ordinary citizens on the street.  Official meetings were held with Kharkiv Mayor Volodymyr Shumilkin and Deputy Governor Serhiy Storozhenko.  Both officials noted President Yushchenko's decree on the elections and stressed their commitment to ensuring that the elections will be free and fair.  The program served to let these officials know that the election process is being observed, not only by the people of Ukraine, but everyone interested in seeing Ukraine continue on its democratic path.

The delegates meet with Kharkiv mayor Volodymyr Shumilkin
Meeting with Shumilkin

Overall, the delegation found a remarkable improvement in the atmosphere of this election from the previous election. The delegates were impressed with the commitment by local citizens involved in the election process to upholding democratic principals, and heard repeatedly from representatives of various political parties that, so far, these are the most free and fair elections Ukraine has ever had.  Citizens spoke of the lack of pressure and intimidation that was prevalent during the 2004 presidential elections and the political parties commented on the equal access they all now have to the media, for holding events and distributing campaign information.  The delegates also witnessed the intensive work being put into creating revised voter lists.  However, numerous complaints were heard regarding the technical aspects of the elections, including the length (1 meter) and number (5) of ballots that voters will be handed on election day, as well as the length of time that will be required to count the ballots (possibly up to 30 hours). 

The delegates meet with Mykola Melnyk, Deputy Head of the CEC
Meeting with Melnyk

Upon their return to Kyiv, the delegates met with Deputy Head of the Central Election Commission Mykola Melnyk and U.S. Ambassador Herbst to report their findings.

At the end of the program, everyone was finally able to take in the beautiful sites of Kyiv. 

Click here to download *.pdf copy of the February 2006 Delegation Report




Communities visited in the Kharkiv oblast

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