Media Contact: Dorothy Douglas Taft
(Washington) – United States Helsinki Commission leaders today issued statements in support of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens of all ages amassing in a nationwide protest in the face of outright fraud and falsification in Ukraine’s presidential election held Sunday.
“I offer my heartfelt support for Ukrainians seeking truth during this critical period for democracy,” said Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ). “I admire the bravery and determination of those demonstrating their desire for an honest count of election votes and encourage Ukrainians to continue their resolve in their pursuit of democratic freedoms. As we prepare to give thanks for our cherished freedoms this Thanksgiving Day, let us not forget those struggling peacefully for their rights and freedoms in cities throughout Ukraine. I urge a constructive resolution of the current impasse that would fully respect the will of the Ukrainian people and the rule of law.”
Commission Co-Chairman Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) stated: “The numerous findings of domestic and international observers, including Helsinki Commission staff, make clear that the Ukrainian authorities are determined to thwart the will of the Ukrainian people through intimidation, manipulation and outright falsification. These elections have profound implications not only for Ukraine, but for pro-democracy forces in Russia, Belarus and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union.”
“What we’ve seen in Kiev’s Independence Square over the last three days is reminiscent of Georgia’s Revolution of Roses one year ago,” said Helsinki Commission Ranking Member Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD). “The level of fraud witnessed by Ukrainian and international observers is shocking. I share in the hope that Ukrainians will be allowed to continue their peaceful protests in their quest for honest election results.”
Estimates of up to 500,000 citizens have filed into Kiev’s Independence Square since Sunday night in a growing protest of the government’s official tally of presidential election votes.
Ukrainian election officials purport to show Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych ahead of democratic candidate Viktor Yushchenko by more than two percentage points – figures at odds with exit poll numbers, and further compromised by widespread election day fraud and manipulation of the vote count and tabulation.
The United States Helsinki Commission, an independent federal agency, by law monitors and encourages progress in implementing provisions of the Helsinki Accords. The Commission, created in 1976, is composed of nine Senators, nine Representatives and one official each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.