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



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 Zeitreporter 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 Zeitbefore 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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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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