More electoral theatre – Odessa

Before a few days of traveling and providing readers with respite from the blog, a little local colour surrounding some on-going local elections and polling day shenanigans.

On 2nd June, in the village of Tsebrikovo/Sebrikovo/Cebrikovo/ (choose your own preferred spelling) in the Velikomikhailovsky district of Odessa, 13 police officers were apparently injured by supporters of Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party as preparation for the 3rd June vote were underway.

Of the alleged “supporters” of Ms Tymoshenko involved it would appear that at least two from that number will now face prosecution.  A pre-trial investigation has begun under part 4 of Article 296 and Art. 345 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – hooliganism and assault on law enforcement officers.  Quite right, albeit there will surely be numerous electoral code infringements too.

Physical violence notwithstanding, the usual anonymous telephone warnings of bombs within the building of the local election commission were also received prompting evacuation and searches of the premises.  A day of electoral preparation deliberately disrupted.

On 2nd June, supporters of Ms Tymoshenko apparently also decided it was wise to block the Odessa – Kyiv road.

Nevertheless polling is underway.

As of the time of writing, there appears to be a large voter turnout on 3rd June.  Whether than will work in favour or against Ms Tymoshenko’s party, and whether or not the previous day’s antics were designed to encourage or dissuade voter turnout is a matter to ponder.

Naturally polling day is not without incident.

Batkivshchyna People’s Deputy Vadim Ivchenko arrived and somehow the gun he was carrying was discharged.  It was apparently an accident – as a reader would understand, accidents happen (when a politician (or those with him) is fart-arsing about with his gun at a polling station).  Only the cynical would interpret the “accidental” discharge of a politician’s gun at a polling station and/or near the electoral commission building to be anything approaching intimidation of either voters or officials.

Mr Ivchenko is not one to pull his punches – even within the walls of the Verkhovna Rada.

That he has deliberately attended polling day with the absolute intention of disrupting it was always going to prove to be far more likely than not.

He is hardly the poster boy for a new, democratic, modern Ukrainian political class.  However, he is very unlikely to be subject to even a stern word, let alone any internal party discipline as far as Ms Tymoshenko or the Batkivshchyna Party are concerned.  Lest a reader forget there are some important elections in 2019 – and Batkivshchyna will want its “agitators” to agitate (as will other parties).

Naturally several polling stations were subjected to anonymous bomb threats, with at least 3 closed to voters at various times (Tsebrivkovo, Nikomarovka and Sakhanka.)  The odious combination of Oleg Radkovsky, regional head of the Batkivshchyna Party, and Mykola Skoryk of Oppo Block both arrived to further stir the disquiet.

Those of the election commission then claimed that Batkivshchyna MP Ivchenko then promptly broke into the election commission building, overturning voting boxes and making threats to commission members – at least his gun didn’t “accidentally” discharge again at that moment.

Both the police and National Guard are deployed.

Regardless of the result and any further procedural nonsense, the stage is obviously set for the result to be legally challenged – again – for this election is the result of a previous election result being overturned by the courts of Odessa.

If this election day is any indication, a reader would have to suspect that not a single police officer nor National Guardsmen stationed in Odessa Oblast can expect to be on leave during the presidential or Verkhovna Rada elections of 2019.