Central Election Committee bumps Melnychenko, Bubka from party lists

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Jan. 31, 2002, 7 p.m. |
22 parties, 13 blocs submit registration documents by Jan. 28 deadline; now CEC must decide who can run ration documents for the parliamentary elections by the deadline at midnight on Jan. 28.

The CEC has also registered 1,160 candidates in single-mandate districts. The CEC said 46 percent of candidates running in constituencies were nominated by parties or election blocs, while the remainder were independents.

Now the CEC and district election commissions must decide by Feb. 3 which candidates are eligible to run on party lists and in single-mandate constituencies. The deadline for resubmitting applications to the CEC is Feb. 3.

The CEC has already made a decision about one of the most controversial candidates on its list. The commission announced Jan. 26 that it would not register Mykola Melnychenko on the Socialist Party’s election list because he did not meet the criteria for being a resident of Ukraine. Melnychenko, who fled Ukraine in late 2000, was granted refugee status in the United States last April.

During a teleconference on Jan. 28, Melnychenko told a gathering of Socialist Party representatives and journalists that the CEC ruling was intending to prevent him from returning to Ukraine to testify against top officials, including President Leonid Kuchma, former Interior Minister Yury Kravchenko, Prosecutor General Myhailo Potebenko and Presidential Administration chief Volodymr Lytvyn.

“[They] are petrified that I will return to Ukraine because then the General Prosecutor’s Office would have to call me as a witness in a criminal investigation. And not in the way [Prosecutor General Mykhailo] Potebenko would prefer, but according to the law. My testimony would compel the GPO to investigate the same [government] individuals, who are responsible for the murder of Georgy Gongadze, as well as crimes of corruption in Ukraine,” he said.

Melnychenko said he is willing to return to Ukraine to testify in the case of journalist Gongadze, who disappeared in Kyiv in 2000. Gongadze’s decomposing corpse was found south of Kyiv six weeks after he disappeared.

High-level officials were implicated in Gongadze’s disappearance on the basis of recordings Melnychenko claimed to have made in the president’s office.

“It is clear the GPO does not want to conduct an investigation according to international law or receive my testimony in the United States pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed by the United States and Ukraine,” Melnychenko continued. “So I must give evidence in Ukraine. I am not afraid of being arrested.”

Melnychenko added that he has no intention of applying for U.S. citizenship.

The Socialist Party said it has appealed to the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on Feb. 5.

“The CEC interprets the election law differently for different people,” Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz said. “I view the decision as political persecution against our candidate.”

The election law says citizens at least 21 years old who have the right to vote and have resided in Ukraine for the past five years can run for parliament. Citizens living abroad illegally or who have been convicted of an “intentional” crime cannot.

The 15-member commission rejected 22 of 225 candidates from For a United Ukraine, an election bloc led by Volodymyr Lytvyn, head of the Presidential Administration. The CEC turned down 12 of 225 candidates from the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) and 21 of 201 from the Green Party. The commission rejected 20 of the 194 applicants from Our Ukraine and 90 of the 211 applicants from the Democratic Union party.

Pole-vaulter Serhy Bubka, who is running on the For a United Ukraine bloc list, was asked to reapply because he listed three home addresses. The CEC also turned down the well-known television talk-show host, Mykola Veresen, the third candidate from the Winter Crop Generation Team, because he did not apply using his real name, Mykola Sytnyk.

Interfax-Ukraine quoted CEC Head Mykhailo Ryabets on Jan. 29 as saying that 2,765 nominees from party lists had already been registered as candidates. Of the total 2,129 were men. Among the registered candidates from party lists were 517 who ran in the 1998 election, including 218 who won seats.

Parties with nominees rejected by the CEC can either appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the decision or resubmit corrected applications. By law, all applications must include each candidate’s biography, as well as property and income statements from 2001.

Parliamentary elections are based on a mixed voting system: 225 deputies are elected from a single national constituency from party or party-bloc lists; the remaining 225 members are elected from single-mandate constituencies by a majority vote.
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