October 26, 2015
At the very beginning of the election campaign in Mariupol, activists repeated the mantra: “Mariupol has been left to Rinat Akhmetov”.
Nobody had any doubt that the majority in the city council would be represented by the “Opposition Block”, the former “Party of Regions”, whose main sponsor is considered to be oligarch Akhmetov.
The leader of the “Opposition Block” regional headquarters in Mariupol, Oleksiy Bily, is considered to be the “onlooking” of Yuriy Ivanushchenko, the owner of “Azovmash” iron and steel works.
Those people from the past, who had had to disappear, felt themselves to be “top dogs” and were ready for an easy victory.
Various political forces claimed that there had been a collusion between the“Block of Petro Poroshenko” (“BPP”) and the “Opposition Block”, that Petro Poroshenko left the city to former regionalists in exchange for the support during voting for the amendments to the Constitution.
The team of oligarch Akhmetov, who owns two of the main plants in Mariupol and a part of Mariupol sea port, estimated their chances to win at 70-80%, as it was claimed several times by “Metinvest” press service.
In fact, the oligarch could appoint any candidate for the election, but he chose Vadym Boychenko, Illicha iron and steel works personnel department director. His initials are the same as the initials of Mariupol “legend” – former Illyicha works director Volodymyr Boyko.
The fate of Mariupol seemed to have been predetermined.
Battle for printing house
Not fewer than 22 candidates applied for the position of the city head, with 13 parties joining the election campaign. They were “Samopomich”, “Syla Lyudey”, “Partiya Zvychaynykh Lyudey”, “Block Yuliyi Timoshenko”, “Solidarnist”, “Nova Derzhava”, “Nash Kray”, “Ukrop”, Oleh Lyashko's Radical Party, “Svoboda”, “Molod do Vlady”, “Sylna Ukrayina”, the Opposition Block.
There were more than one hundred candidates who competed for the positions of 54 deputies in the city council.
Three heads of the territorial election commission replaced each other during the month and a half of the election campaign.
Petro Andrushchenko, candidate for deputies from “Syla Lyudey” party, explains that during that time the Central Election Commission deliberately selected the head and members of the election commission from those who were loyal to the “Opposition Block”. “They may have analyzed their socioligy and decided to go for broke”, Andrushchenko believes.
The key conflict which arose in th territorial election commission was connected with choosing the printing house to print ballots.
Iryna Yuryna, head of the commission
Iryna Yuryna, commission head and director of the garment factory — a “Metinvest” contractor – was persistantly lobbying “Priazovskiy Rabochy” printing house which belonged to Akhmetov.
Nine out of 18 members of the commission were against that decision.
At night, October 15-16, the Central Election Commission made the decision to reduce the number of the members of the city election coьmission due to the fact that some members of the election commission allegedly did not attend the commission meetings.
It was evident that the Central Election Commission protected the interests of “Metinvest” as the same day the new commission majority made the decision to print the ballots in “Priazovskiy Rabochiy” printing house.
“On October 16, uncontrolled printing started in “Priazovskit Rabochit”. During the first three hours they allowed neither candidates, nor journalists to enter the territory of the printing house”, mayoral candidate Yuriy Ternavskiy comments on the situation.
Tarnavskiy is called “eternal candidate” in Mariupol. He assures that in 2006 he won the mayoral election. “But at night new ballots were printed in “Priazovskiy Rabochiy” printing house. As a result, Yuriy Hotlubey won the election once again. The second set of ballots could have been printed again”, Tarnavskiy says.
However, at the present election, representatives of eight parties and the majority of candadates for the position of the mayor, who called themselves the democratic majority, united to prevent any manipulations with ballots.
On October 16, they organised the besiegement of the printing house demanding to observe the prosedure.
The night which was not quiet in the printing house
“The day of silence” turned into the day of chaos in Mariupol on the eve of the election.
At 12:00 all the 11 members of the election commission came to “Priazovskiy Rabochiy” printing house to take the printed ballots.
“Accidentally we found ballots with misprints. They were on the floor. Under the table we found a tored package and the printing house stamps which are used to seal the packges”, says Natalya Kashchiy, member of the territorial election commission.
Members of the territorial election commission
The commission members also paid attention to the fact that the room was sealed only with the stamps of the printing house without the signatures of the commission members who were on duty in the printing house.
They drew up a statement and asked the police and representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine to come. “It looked as if they had printed an extra set, but did not have time to cover up the traces”, the members of the commission were saying, shrugging the shoulders, when a journalist of “Ukrainska Pravda” came to the scene.
Anastasiya Ringis, UP
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