Geopolitics

Clean Win For Ruling Party In Ukraine Elections? Observers Say No

KIEV POST (Ukraine), INTERNEWS EURASIA (U.S.), DIE ZEIT (Germany), BBC NEWS (U.K.), HURRIYET (Turkey)

Worldcrunch

KIEV - The Russia-friendly Party of Regions of incumbent president Viktor Yanukovych was claiming victory Monday in the closely watched Ukraine parliamentary elections. Together with its Communist party allies, the Regions party says it will have a simple majority in the 450-seat Ukraine parliament after Sunday's vote.

The Kiev Post reported Monday that foreign observers sent to monitor the elections in the Ukraine complained that the vote was “an apparent reversal in Ukraine’s democratic progress.” The official observers said that media had been controlled by the incumbent government, and that some parties in the election had no representation on election commissions, and that there was a general lack of transparency. The Post dubbed it an “oligarchization” of the vote.

Top opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's former prime minister, has had to follow the vote from in prison, sentenced last year to seven years for “abuse of power.”

Of the five main political parties battling for vote, there was also the Udar or Punch party of Vitali Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion; and Svoboda, a nationalist party which in the past was known for its racist and anti-semitic bent. The parties won respectively about 13%, and 8 % of the vote, according to the BBC, guaranteeing even Svoboda at least one seat in parliament. Timoshynko’s party acknowledged the victory of the president’s party.

Still, foreign observers noted widespread problems and corruption. A Die Zeit reporter in Irpin, a university town north of Kiev, witnessed voters being given envelopes after voting, and interviewed a man who said that five extra voters were registered to his home.

In an interview with Die Zeit before the election, Klitschko said that Ukraine was seen as a third-world nation, with six million Ukrainians working abroad, and was almost at the bottom of the global transparency index. According to Klitschko, half of Ukrainians see no future in their homeland and 70 % of school leavers want to emigrate. “These are facts,” he told Die Zeit. Klitschko added that students in Kiev were being paid 15 euros to vote for the president’s party.

After the election, monitors denounced a lack of transparency, and clear signs of corruption. “Ukraine’s streak of four relatively democratic national elections, from 2004 to 2012, has come to an end with the Oct. 28 parliamentary vote,” the Kiev Post concluded.

Zombies encourage young people not to be passive in the election

The runup to the election was colorful. The Internews website hired zombies to go around Kiev as a gag to encourage young people to vote. Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, reporting from Kiev, listed among the candidates, besides Klitschko, “an extravagantly dressed pop diva, a retired football star, the son of a famous actor, and an opposition leader suspiciously cozy with the government.” The football star was Andrij Shevchenko, former striker for AC Milan, a candidate for Ukraine Forward, a party “widely believed to be supported by the ruling party and aimed at siphoning off opposition votes,” according to Hurriyet.

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Protests against gasoline price hikes in Lebanon

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Wai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where leaked documents show how some countries are lobbying to change a key report on climate change, Moscow announces new full lockdown and the world's first robot artist is arrested over spying allegations. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt looks at the rapprochement between two leaders currently at odds with Europe: UK's BoJo and Turkey's Erdogan.

[*Bodo - India, Nepal and Bengal]


🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Documents reveal countries lobbying against climate action: Leaked documents have revealed that some of the world's biggest fossil fuel and meat producing countries, including Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia, are trying to water down a UN scientific report on climate change and pushing back on its recommendations for action, less than one month before the COP26 climate summit.

• COVID update: The city of Moscow plans to reintroduce lockdown measures next week, closing nearly all shops, bars and restaurants, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a nationwide seven-day workplace shutdown from Oct. 30 to combat the country's record surge in coronavirus cases and deaths. Meanwhile, India has crossed the 1 billion vaccinations milestone.

• India and Nepal floods death toll passes 180: Devastating floods in Nepal and the two Indian states of Uttarakhand and Kerala have killed at least 180 people, following record-breaking rainfall.

• Barbados elects first ever president: Governor general Dame Sandra Mason has been elected as Barbados' first president as the Caribbean island prepares to become a republic after voting to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

• Trump to launch social media platform: After being banned from several social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter, former U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would launch his own app called TRUTH Social in a bid "to fight back against Big Tech." The app is scheduled for release early next year.

• Human remains found in hunt for Gabby Petito's fiance: Suspected human remains and items belonging to Brian Laundrie were found in a Florida park, more than one month after his disappearance. Laundrie was a person of interest in the murder of his fiancee Gabby Petito, who was found dead by strangulation last month.

• Artist robot detained in Egypt over spying fear: Ai-Da, the world's ultra-realistic robot artist, was detained for 10 days by authorities in Egypt where it was due to present its latest art works, over fears the robot was part of an espionage plot. Ai-Da was eventually cleared through customs, hours before the exhibition was due to start.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"Nine crimes and a tragedy," titles Brazilian daily Extra, after a report from Brazil's Senate concluded that President Jair Bolsonaro and his government had failed to act quickly to stop the deadly coronavirus pandemic, accusing them of crimes against humanity.


📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Erdogan and Boris Johnson: A new global power duo?

As Turkey fears the EU closing ranks over defense, Turkish President Erdogan is looking to Boris Johnson as a post-Brexit ally, especially as Angela Merkel steps aside. This could undermine the deal where Ankara limits refugee entry into Europe, and other dossiers too, write Carolina Drüten and Gregor Schwung in German daily Die Welt.

🇹🇷🇬🇧 According to the Elysée Palace, the French presidency "can't understand" why Turkey would overreact, since the defense pact that France recently signed in Paris with Greece is not aimed at Ankara. Although Paris denies this, it is difficult to see the agreement as anything other than a message, perhaps even a provocation, targeted at Turkey. The country has long felt left out in the cold, at odds with the European Union over a number of issues. Yet now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is setting his sights on another country, which also wants to become more independent from Europe: the UK.

⚠️ Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel always argued for closer collaboration with Turkey. She never supported French President Emmanuel Macron's ideas about greater strategic autonomy for countries within the EU. But now that she's leaving office, Macron is keen to make the most of the power vacuum Merkel will leave behind. The prospect of France's growing influence is "not especially good news for Turkey," says Ian Lesser, vice president of the think tank German Marshall Fund.

🤝 At the UN summit in September, Erdogan had a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the recently opened Turkish House in New York. Kalin says it was a "very good meeting" and that the two countries are "closely allied strategic partners." He says they plan to work together more closely on trade, but with a particular focus on defense. The groundwork for collaboration was already in place. Britain consistently supported Turkey's ambition to join the EU, and gave an ultimate proof of friendship after the failed coup in 2016.


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📣 VERBATIM

"He has fought tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir Putin's regime. This cost him his liberty and nearly his life."

— David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter, following the announcement that imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was awarded the 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the European Union's highest tribute to human rights defenders. Navalny, who survived a poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin, is praised for his "immense personal bravery" in fighting Putin's regime. The European Parliament called for his immediate release from jail, as Russian authorities opened a new criminal case against the activist that could see him stay in jail for another decade.

💬  LEXICON

魷魚的勝利

Chinese video platform Youku is under fire after announcing it is launching a new variety show called in Mandarin Squid's Victory (Yóuyú de shènglì) on social media, through a poster that also bears striking similarities with the visual identity of Netflix's current South Korean hit series Squid Game. Youku apologized by saying it was just a "draft" poster.

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