Ukraine 2002 Parliamentary Election
The reform process slowed in the run-up to parliamentary elections on 31 March 2002. Ukraine's parliamentary elections, which were characterized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as flawed, but an improvement over the 1998 elections. The pro-presidential For a United Ukraine bloc won the largest number of seats, followed by the reformist Our Ukraine bloc of former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, and the Communist Party. There are 450 seats in parliament, with half chosen from party lists by proportional vote and half from individual constituencies.
The NGO Freedom House has downgraded the country's rating from "partly free" to "not free" because of state censorship of television broadcasts, continued harassment and disruption of independent media, and the failure of authorities to adequately investigate attacks against journalists. In 2002, journalists formed an independent union, the Ukrainian Journalists' Union (UJU), to resist censorship and protect journalists from job loss or other forms of harassment. In October 2003, the media reported that other journalists had decided to create another new union, the All-Ukrainian Association of Journalists, as alternative to the UJU.
Leading television channels in the country demonstrate features typical of an authoritarian society. These characteristics include broadcasts on all channels portraying identical points of view, declining coverage of political parties and civil society organizations, and increasing coverage of pro-administration representatives.
Opposition candidates received limited and often negative coverage at the national level; however, opposition candidates had more success in obtaining access to smaller local and regional television channels. The OSCE reported that media coverage of the elections was "highly biased," with the state-funded national channel giving "disproportionate coverage to the pro-presidential candidates." While candidates' access to the media improved in those elections compared to earlier ones, this trend was reversing itself as the October 2004 presidential election approached.
On 30 August 2003, Ivan Havdyda, Deputy Head of the Ukrainian People's Party, was found dead one block from his apartment in Kiev. Initially, investigators reported that Havdyda died from a fractured skull sustained in a fall. An autopsy later revealed that Havdyda died from a blow to the head. Due to a lack of confidence in the procuracy, which was conducting an investigation of the incident, lawmakers established a commission to investigate Havdyda's death. Friends and colleagues asserted that Havdyda's death was a result of his political activities. A criminal investigation was ongoing at year's end; however, police declined to release any information either to the public or to the Parliamentary commission established to investigate Havdyda's death.
On 28 November 2003, local leader of the opposition party Reforms and Order (Our Ukraine bloc) in Khmelnytsky Oblast, Yuri Bosak, was found hanging in a forest on the outskirts of town. Police attributed his death to suicide and closed the case; however, relatives and colleagues believe that Bosak was killed and then hanged because of his political activity. Bosak's lawyer said that there was evidence that Bosak had been killed, and that he had experienced difficulties with the local police just prior to his death in connection with party activities. He was found with bruises on his wrists consistent with the forceful use of handcuffs, and the fingers on his left hand were broken.
|Seats Won in 2002 Election|
|For a United Ukraine||102||35||67|
|Communist Party of Ukraine||66||60||6|
|Socialist Party of Ukraine||24||20||4|
|Social Democratic Party of Ukraine||24||19||5|
|Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc||21||21||0|
|Democratic Party of Ukraine-Democratic Union||4||0||4|
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