Accessibility links

Breaking News

Watchdog

A woman casts her ballot in Simferopol.
As Ukrainians continue to go to the polls under a light snow, voting in Kyiv has been calm so far, with officials saying they're seeing the lowest turnout in 10 years. But the threat that allegations of fraud will disrupt the election hangs over the process.

That's why Viktor Yanukovych is keen to win decisively by pulling more than 10 percent ahead of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in the first round. Less than that will appear to be a victory for Tymoshenko, who will try to close the gap by gaining the support of other voters ahead of a likely second round of voting on February 7.

There have been accusations of violations across Ukraine, but so far no more than usual.

Tymoshenko's party has accused Yanukovych's pro-Moscow Party of Regions of hiring buses to shuttle groups of voters between polling stations for multiple voting. Yanukovych's party accuses Tymoshenko's people of trying to stop voters from casting their ballots at home, something Tymoshenko has warned Yushchenko would exploit to falsify the results.

A court has ruled voters may only cast their ballots at home if they show proof of a medical reason, something Interior Minister Yury Lutsenko -- who's allied with Tymoshenko -- today said would be strictly enforced with punishments of up to three years in jail for violations. But he also said voting has so far proceeded without significant incident.

Georgia has become a sideline issue in the election. Keen to show its support for Ukraine's Orange forces, pro-Western Tbilisi has sent thousands of observers to monitor the process. The election commission refused to register 2,000 of them, something President Viktor Yushchenko blamed on opposition forces.

The commission hasn’t escaped the highly partisan nature of Ukrainian officialdom. Eight of its members are said to be loyal to Yanukovych, seven to the Orange forces.

The commission says so far the vote's legitimacy isn’t under threat. Most believe both Tymoshenko and Yushchenko will probably accept today's results.

-- Gregory Feifer in Kyiv
Alisher Saipov was killed in 2007
Regional Tajik police say they know nothing about the reported arrest of a man suspected in the 2007 murder of Kyrgyz journalist Alisher Saipov.

Kyrgyz Interior Ministry spokesman Bakyt Seyitov told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that his ministry was told on January 14 about the arrest of a Tajik citizen, Farrukh Sharakhmatullaev, by the Sughd police department.

Seyitov said the ministry and Prosecutor-General's Office are currently trying to secure the suspect's extradition to Kyrgyzstan.

But Dilyavar Alizoda, a police department spokesman in the northern city of Sughd, told RFE/RL today that reports of a man being arrested in connection with the killing of Saipov are untrue.

Sharakhmatullaev was allegedly named by Abdufarid Rasulov, who has been sentenced in Kyrgyzstan for his role in Saipov's murder.

In February, Kyrgyz police detained Rasulov in Kyrgyzstan's Batken region for drug trafficking and discovered a pistol without a serial number that was shown to be the weapon used to shoot Saipov.

Rasulov said the pistol was given to him in December by Sharakhmatullaev.

Saipov, 26, an ethnic Uzbek and editor in chief of the Osh-based newspaper "Siyosat" ("Politics"), was shot dead as he left his office in central Osh on October 24, 2007.

Saipov had also worked as a correspondent for RFE/RL and the Voice of America.

His relatives and colleagues said he may have been killed by Uzbek secret services in retaliation for his critical articles about Uzbek President Islam Karimov and his government.

Load more

About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

Subscribe

Journalists In Trouble

RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More

XS
SM
MD
LG