US criticizes Ukraine for shortcomings in regional elections
Nov 5, 2010, 14:27 GMT
Kiev - The United States on Friday criticized last week's elections in Ukraine for being less free and open than in previous votes.
A statement posted on the US embassy website called Ukraine's leaders to task for poorly trained electoral commission members, organizational problems and government support of some candidates.
Ukraine's ruling Party of Regions has emerged the clear winner in the local elections, which picked mayors and members for regional legislatures across the former Soviet republic.
Previous elections in Ukraine were fairer and more democratic, and the quality of Ukrainian elections had regressed, according to the US State Department statement.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych heads Party of Regions. His opponents have accused him of ordering his administration and police to support the party's candidates.
Anna German, Yanukovych's spokeswoman, rejected the criticism in an interview with the Unian news agency.
'The definition of democracy is not set in stone,' she said. Democracy in every country has its own peculiarities, and in Ukraine as well...And we in Ukraine can also draw conclusions from US elections.'
International observers largely regarded Ukraine's Sunday elections as generally free and fair, without systemic fraud but occasionally chaotic.
Major weaknesses noted during the Sunday poll, as compared to previous elections, included slow ballot counts, sloppy ballot distribution and widespread reports of pressure on some government workers to vote for Party of Regions candidates.