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Head of Ukraine’s election commission to be questioned over Mariupol election disruption

October 27, 2015, 9:43 UTC+3 KIEV
On October 25, Ukraine held elections to the local authorities but the polling stations in Mariupol and Krasnoarmeysk never opened because of problems with ballot papers
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Members of local Ukraine election commission inspect ballot papers in a printing firm in the eastern city of Mariupol

Members of local Ukraine election commission inspect ballot papers in a printing firm in the eastern city of Mariupol

© EPA/SERGEY VAGANO

KIEV, October 27. /TASS/. Ukraine’s Interior Ministry believes Chairman of the country’s Central Election Commission Mikhail Okhendovsky is involved in breach of legislation which led to the disruption of elections in the strategic port city of Mariupol, Advisor to the Interior Minister Ivan Stoiko said.

On October 25, Ukraine held elections to the local authorities. However, the polling stations in Mariupol and Krasnoarmeysk never opened because of problems with ballot papers.

"There were big irregularities on the part of both the chairman of the territorial election commission, in particular, in Mariupol and, in my opinion, on the part of the head of the Central Election Commission who should have reacted to that. Regardless of the status and the position held, everyone will be interrogated, and investigators will then put a period to it," Stoiko told Ukraine’s Public TV.

Ahead of the elections, the Mariupol city election commission refused to accept the ballots printed in the printing office of a local newspaper owned by Ukrainian tycoon Rinat Akhmetov. The decision was taken because of the torn ballots that had been found and mistakes in some of them.

However, Ukraine’s Central Election Commission called the cancellation of the elections groundless. According to Okhendovsky, representatives of the election commissions of Mariupol and Krasnoarmeysk "had direct intent" to disrupt the elections, and they face criminal penalties of up to seven years in prison. He noted that the ruling of a Krasnoarmeysk court used by the commission’s member as a justification for cancelling the voting was illegal, adding that it would be appealed and would probably be "revoked by a court of superior jurisdiction."

The head of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission on election day called on representatives of the election commissions of Mariuipol and Krasnoarmeysk "to show common sense, accept the ballots and open the polling stations." However, this did not happen.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko described the situation in Mariupol as "totally unacceptable." He asked the Verkhovna Rada to amend the country’s legislation to hold the elections in Mariupol this year. Poroshenko also demanded that the law enforcement agencies look into the reasons for cancelling the voting.

In Mariupol, the Interior Ministry has registered 147 reports of irregularities related to the elections, while in Krasnoarmeysk, 20 reports of irregularities have been registered.

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