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No politically biased international observation during Ukraine’s Presidential election

(April 1, 2019)


During the first round of Presidential Elections, EPDE experts did not identify international politically biased election observation missions’ activities. “Such missions, however, could be activated during the second round”, stated Anton Shekhovtsov, EPDE analyst.

“The chief objective of politically biased international election observation is to mislead the local and international public regarding the legitimacy of election results”, said Stefanie Schiffer, Head of the Board of EPDE. “These observation missions spread mistrust towards democratic institutions”.

Shekhovtsov recommended that the Ukrainian Central Election Commission should scrutinize the applications of international observers based on their potential former engagement within missions that aimed to discredit the institution of international election observation. He underlined the importance of sanctions against individuals who previously observed illegitimate elections in Crimea and in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk. “This explains, at least partially, the lack of the so-called international fake observation in this election”.

“The fact that we did not have a visible activity of fake election observers is a sign of how resilience and a strict reaction from the side of the administration can protect the integrity of elections”, said Schiffer. “Other countries may be able to learn from Ukraine’s experience”. “In the 2014 Presidential elections we identified several fake election observation missions”, added Shekhovtsov. “These included missions lead by far-right activist Mateusz Piskorski from Poland and a mission featuring members of Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party and Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AFD)”.

Previously, EPDE members Civil Network Opora and Committee of Voters of Ukraine have reported a large number of Ukrainian politically motivated election observation groups. There were 139 domestic NGOs registered in Ukraine as election observation organizations, of which 85 have no previous experience of election observation, more than 30 NGOs had connections to a single presidential candidate, and only five observed the 2014 Presidential elections. “We can see a mushrooming of election observation here in Ukraine which has a clear political connotation and threatens to cast doubts on the credibility of election observation”, said Schiffer.

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