Odesa Election Post-Mortem
According to “official” results, incumbent Gennadiy Trukhanov won an outright victory in the first round to be re-elected as Mayor of Odesa. He defeated Solidarity’s Sasha Borovik 53-26% with former Mayor Eduard Hurvits finishing third with nine percent and MP Serhiy Kivalov receiving six percent. The election watchdog organization OPORA’s parallel vote count largely confirmed a first round Trukhanov victory. In addition, the “Shuster Live” exit poll showed Trukhanov at 48% to Borovik’s 31% which means that it differed from the “official” results by ten percent. Governor Mikheil Saakashvili had campaigned openly for Borovik and after receiving the news of Trukhanov’s first round victory, four court cases were filed to contest the results. All four cases were eventually dismissed and the CEC certified Trukhanov as the Mayor on Monday, November 2nd. As with everything in Odesa though, there is the “official” story and then there is the real story…
Odesa in elections are almost always the dirtiest and most falsified in Ukraine. The 1998, 2002 and 2010 elections all ended up in court afterwards with judges deciding the final outcome. The 2014 election almost ended with a court case, but at the request of President Poroshenko (who didn’t want anyone contesting his presidential election victory in the strategic region of Odesa), the plaintiff Eduard Hurvits withdrew his case. Odesa insiders know that the 2015 election was no less falsified than previous Odesa elections. If that is the case, then why didn’t someone catch the fraud? In short, it’s because the bad guys have gotten particularly talented at overcoming the traditional “anti-falsification tools” which are international election observers, exit polls and parallel vote tabulations.International Election Observers: In the 1980’s and 1990’s, a mere negative word from a US Senator was enough to void an election (take Marcos in the Philippines in 1986). International election observers and their presence would scare election violators into upholding their own laws. Soon the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) began monitoring the elections in the emerging democracies in Eastern Europe and the Brussels and Washington bureaucracies believed that they had beaten the bad guys. However the weaknesses of international election observers are that they are very few in number. In Ukraine this year, there were around 30,000 polling stations and just 1555 international election observers. That means that every international observer would have to visit 20 polling stations during Election Day to cover them all, and that assumes that nothing fraudulent happened before or after the observer’s visit to the site. In addition, most observer organizations – and particularly the OSCE – have become so bureaucratically bloated and “neutral”, that they are neutral about the country’s future with whom they monitor. The OSCE is a short term jobs program for the 28 member host states with little incentive to prevent election fraud. OSCE reports focus on gender issues, disability access and other “re-arranging deck furniture on the Titanic” issues rather than the real issues of administrative resources and fraud. Essentially they are like an American football team that focuses on trick plays like the flea flicker rather than fundamentals like blocking and tackling. As one Ukrainian MP said, “OSCE monitors see a train about to go off a bridge and rather than doing something to stop it and save the people, they sit back, watch the crash and then write a nice report about everything – after everyone is dead”. Ask any Ukrainian political party leader their true opinion of OSCE monitors and they responses will range from “worthless” to “Russian stooges”. Most recently, an OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) observer in the Donbass got fired for being a Russian intelligence officer. If the OSCE can’t screen their SMM monitors in a war zone, how confident can we be in the quality of their long and short term election observers? It’s no wonder that some have nicknamed the OSCE the Organization for Sitting in Cafes in Europe. More to the specifics of Odesa, the OSCE deployed 684 observers to Ukraine’s 25 oblasts holding elections. That means approximately 27 observers per oblast roughly split between the city and the oblast. In Odesa City, six teams of two observers were deployed to cover Odesa city’s 345 polling stations. That means that each team was responsible for 58 polling stations. A veteran observer can competently cover no more than 25 polling stations per day – at best. Thus, it’s a case of too many polling stations and too little time. While international observers help, and I believe that every visit by an international observer to a polling station reduces fraud by one percent or more, there are never enough international observers to significantly impact the situation. Even more importantly, when international observers show up, most fraudulent activity at a polling station ceases until the observer departs. However the bad guys in Odesa have become so effective at carousel voting, that only an experienced observer can catch the clues. In Odesa on October 25th, many polling stations had commissioners making use of two voter lists. Voters who are voting the carousel (i.e. multiple times)are told to look for a commissioner wearing a particular clothing item (in Obukhiv in March 2012 it was a purple sweater) and give a password. If the commissioner hears the right password then he/she allows the voter to use a different person’s vote despite not having proper voter identification documents. The commissioner has a list of voters who don’t usually vote because they are outside the country, have changed addresses, are dead, etc. Thus, a voter could travel to as many polling stations as an veteran international observer could observe in a day (up to 25), and vote at each station. This perverted technology is highly effective in multiplying the votes for particular candidates (in this case Trukhanov). It only takes one commissioner at each polling station, and 500 loyalists (all of whom can be bused from one station to the next) to shift 12,500 votes in a day. Carousel voting is not easy to detect like the old Donbass style “stuff the ballot box” voting which was frequently used in 2002-2004.
The other weakness of most international observers is that they get caught up in the “opening” of the station rather than focusing on the vote count itself. During the vote count is when much of the fraud takes place. If a commission wants to falsify the vote, they simply need to “wait out” the observers until they get tired and go home. Very few observers actually stay until the end of the counting process to receive an official protocol. Since commissions are more attentive to international observers than domestic ones, by waiting for the international observers to depart, the commissions can then run rough shod over the domestic observers and often refuse to give protocols at all. As recently as 2012, commissioners in Kyiv would prevent observers from visually verifying that the ballots were recorded correctly (i.e. standing close enough to see who the ballot was for). This is a direct violation of Ukrainian law which allows observers the right to observe anywhere they desire inside the polling station. Add a few thugs into the polling station as observers or commissioners to enforce this denial of rights, and the commission is again free to call the ballots however they wish. Yes of course, the commissioners for opposition candidates have the right to contest these matters, but with bribes of up to $200,000 being paid for Chairpersons of City Territorial Election Commissions just in Odesa, there is not much incentive for being honest.Parallel Vote Counts (PVC): To complement the work of international and domestic observers, parallel vote counts were created. In short, this requires that observers obtain an official protocol from each polling station. The protocols are then tabulated and the results are compared to the “official” results from the election commission. This does force observers to stay until the end which is important since much of the fraud takes place during the vote count. In theory this is an improvement over having mere observers as it focuses on results. OPORA, the Odesa election watchdog conducted a parallel vote tabulation for the Odesa city election. The local organization is run by Anatoliy Boyko, a honest guy and experienced Odesa political expert. However the weakness of a parallel vote count is that the result is only as good as the protocols which are tabulated. If the protocols are fake, then the PVC numbers will also reflect the fake numbers. How can protocols be falsified in this case? First, Odesa commissions were complaining about a lack of protocols forms available at each station. No other part of the country had this same issue – as apparently only the “poor” city of Odesa couldn’t afford to print enough blank protocol forms. This meant that the commissions could decide who to give protocols and who to tell to “take a hike”. Or in other cases, observers were given protocols “approved” by the commissions which may or may not have reflected the actual results. For example, in Malynovskiy Rayon of Odesa (one of the four rayons in the city), almost half of the protocols showed the result (plus or minus a few votes) of 600 votes for Trukhanov, 200 votes for Borovik and 60 votes for Hurvits. The mathematical probability of such an occurrence is comparable to lightning striking the same place twice. Clearly orders had been given to produce a particular result in that rayon and commissioners obeyed within a few votes of their mandate. Thus, the protocols being given to observers did not reflect the actual vote count but rather a top down order from a particular candidate.
Exit Polling: In 2004 during the Orange Revolution, one of the ways the West knew the election was falsified by Yanukovych was that the exit polls showed Yushchenko winning solidly. Stung by this scientific tool, the bad guys swore to never again be defeated by it. As a result, they started to produce their own exit polls, first from Russian sources and now from their own. This evolved into a dueling exit poll battle, but still for the public, the Western exit polls took precedence. Thus, the bad guys scratched their heads and came up with an even better solution. They decided to flood elections with so many exit polls from previously unknown firms, that the public would be confused and friendly media could trumpet the “preferred” exit poll as official to create a fait accompli. As a backup plan, the bad guys learned to pervert the data collection, because again, the exit polls results are only as good as the quality of the data tabulated. If an exit poll box of ballots was replaced by a “more friendly” box of ballots for a particular candidate, there are no observers or third parties to object. Exit poll canvassers could collect the real data during the day and then swap out the real data with the preferred data. In other words, there is no observation process for the exit poll data collection and vote count. In the old days, ballot boxes got dumped into the Black Sea, today exit poll ballots also get dumped into the Black Sea.
The evil genius of this technology is that the public is given a “scientific” result when the polls closed and told that the final results will largely match it. The key point is to show a particular candidate ahead and then manipulate the protocols to match the desired result. Since the public doesn’t know ABC firm from XYZ firm, they only see the “projections”. Then in the case of Trukhanov, stealing five percent overnight is relatively easy to do and can be explained away as “statistical error”. In an interesting twist to the “Shuster Live” exit poll in Odesa, everywhere else in the country Socis conducted the data collection. In Odesa however, a local company was used for data collection and the exit poll workers openly agitated and campaigned for Trukhanov. Criminal looking individuals demanded voters participate in the process of exit polling. In multiple cases, the exit poll agitators even told voters info such as “Trukhanov is winning with 60%” and “it’s finished. Trukhanov is already the winner”.Furthermore, an interesting “tweet”, Sasha Borovik’s campaign released early exit poll results at noon on Election Day showing Trukhanov at 38%, Hurvits at 22%, Kivalov at 15% and Borovik at 11%. Given that Trukhanov and Kivalov voters are older and more likely to vote in the morning and that Borovik’s younger voters are more likely to vote after lunch, these numbers are likely the closest snapshot of the real results from Odesa. These results match pre-election sociology across the board as well as Boroviks’ own internal polling numbers which showed him running a distant third behind Trukhanov and Hurvits. While “early exits” can generally vary by around five percent from the final tally, they are a good indicator of where the race really is going.
This “tweet” brings up a final interesting question: ‘Who is Sasha Borovik?’ Borovik was born in Ukraine to the son of a KGB officer and officially is a Harvard graduate who worked for Microsoft. He attended KGB School and then somehow managed to immigrate to Czechoslovakia during Soviet times. He proceeded to become a German citizen and in March of this year, received Ukrainian citizenship once again. Borovik almost became First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade until an SBU background check revealed major discrepancies in his official resume. At that point, Premier Yatsenyuk refused to appoint him which led to Borovik attacking the Premier on television and eventually finding his way to Odesa to be an adviser to Saakashvili. From virtual obscurity, Borovik was selected as Solidarity’s candidate for Mayor over longtime Poroshenko ally Eduard Hurvits. No one is exactly sure how this happened but it may have it origins in an offshore company called BOW Sintez Oil Ltd. – but more about that later….
Thought Saakashvili initially campaigned actively for Borovik, the Governor hedged his bets a month out by approving a separate “Georgian Team” to work with Hurvits (led by his former Defense Minister). Along the way Saakaashvili began to realize that fraud was likely and tried to change out corrupt election commissions from Solidarity party. However his attempts were shot down in a face to face meeting with President Poroshenko by Solidarity MP Oleksiy Goncharenko. Goncharenko, who’s close personal relationship with the president’s son Oleksiy gives him strong leverage, called Misha “a liar” in front of the President and the Governor was forced to sit and take the abuse.
The sad fact is that at the start of the campaign, Saakashvili’s team struck a deal with Trukhanov to peacefully co-exist, as long as Trukhanov didn’t steal the election. According to their data, a second round was a certainty and that would allow Borovik (or Hurvits as a backup) to compete. Smelling victory close at hand, Trukhanov’s team went for the jugular with the blessing of Odesa’ top criminal authority Aleksandr “the Angel” Angert. Trukhanov, the Angel and Russian businessman Aleksandr Zhukov (who’s daughter is married to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich) are business partners on multiple ventures. By stealing a first round victory and breaking the “deal” with Saakashvili, the Georgian team was caught flat footed. Thus, as a key Saakashvili ally said the day after the election, “war has begun”.Team Saakashvili filed multiple court cases in an attempt to cancel the results or at least obtain a recount. “Misha” gave passionate speeches about the need to punish election fraud and calling Trukhanov a “bandit”. Trukhanov and Borovik’s supporters held counter demonstrations outside the district courtrooms. However in Ukraine, if one wants to win a court case, there are two factors that can influence the decision, and neither involve great speeches or rule of law. First, is the judge more afraid of you or your opponent? Second, who has bribed the judge more – you or your opponent? To Misha’s credit he was not willing to bribe the judges to win a verdict on a clear cut case of election fraud. Trukhanov, with the unlimited financial resources of Ihor Kolomoyskyi behind him, is accustomed to paying bribes to win favorable court decisions, and remained true to form. Still though, Saakashvili had a chance to win the case by putting the fear of Almighty God into the judge. Certainly Trukhanov was putting pressure on the judges too and no doubt “the Angel” offered additional threats. In the end, the judges all ruled against Saakashvili and in favor in Trukhanov. They simply feared Trukhanov more than they feared Saakashvili. This moment may yet be the “Waterloo” for Saakashvili. If the Governor can’t control a provincial court decision on a case of election fraud, how can he deal with the big boys in Kyiv? Saakashvili is already angling for the Prime Minister’s post (or at least First Deputy) but this defeat may demonstrate that the “emperor has no clothes”. As one Georgian friend of Saakashvili said, “this election is bad for us, its’ worse for Odesa, but it’s ten times worse for Misha”. The reality is during Saakashvili’s five months as Governor, no real changes or reforms have taken place in Odesa and this has not gone unnoticed by locals.
Finally, one has to wonder if this entire election process was scripted by Bankova street from the beginning. Following Kolomoyskyi’s firing by Poroshenko, at least five concessions were made to the oligarch (read Ukraine Update 4/5: Clash of the Titans). Those listed were the five that were known publicly. Rumors immediately began circulating that another deal had been made on Odesa too involving Presidential Chief of Staff Borys Lozhkin, oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, Aleksandr Zhukov and “the Angel”. In this agreement, Trukhanov would stay as Mayor as the “guarantor” of everyone’s fates. A new governor would be appointed soon to replace Kolomoyskyi’s right hand Ihor Palytsya (at the time Poroshenko planned to appoint Goncharenko but due to Western objections at his thin qualifications, Saakashvili emerged as the compromise) and would need to ‘talk’ tough about reforms. However since the real power in Odesa has always been in the city and not the oblast, having a “flexible” mayor would ensure that it would be “business as usual” for the big boys. The agreement had the added benefit of keeping the peace in Odesa with the city’s top criminal authority at a time when Russia was/is working to destabilize the region. Now with the war that has erupted as Saakashvili realized he was double crossed by Trukhanov/Kolomoyskyi/Angel, all bets are off.
Regarding Sasha Borovik’s emergence from a German citizen to candidate for mayor of Odesa in a matter of just six months, Sintez Oil seems to be the centerpiece of the intrigue. Sintez Oil Limited is a company controlled by Mr. Zhukov and “the Angel” Mr. Angert. What is most interesting is the role that Valeriy Borovik plays at Sintez Oil as their Head of Security. Valeriy Borovik, a career KGB officer is Sasha Borovik’s father. Thus, when locals ask why Sasha Borovik was present to legitimize Trukhanov’s abrupt swearing-in at the city council (despite his public talk of fraud and court challenges), it is because Borovik’s part in the game was to ensure Trukhanov’s re-election. Or in other words, because daddy (and his paymasters) said so. Odesa’s election featured the Star Wars villain Darth Vader as a candidate. In the Star Wars trilogy, Darth stuns the hero Luke Skywalker by revealing that he is his father. In real Odesa though, Sasha knew who his dad is and who he works for from the beginning. He was simply playing his part in the grand intrigue. Bankova street should get an “Oscar” for best screenplay and Borovik an Oscar for best supporting actor in this Odesa intrigue.
Soon in this blog, we will outline what needs to be done to combat the evolution of the bad guys’ manipulation of observers, exit polls and PVC’s. For now though, there are other issues to address…
Premier Minister Sweepstakes
Premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s days in his post are numbered. It’s no longer a question of “if” he is replaced but “when?” Many pundits are predicting a December dismissal by parliament. While “the rabbit” (as Yatsenyuk is nicknamed) may yet pull a rabbit from the hat and survive until spring, the battle for succession is already underway. President Poroshenko clearly would prefer Speaker Groisman, but given the President’s declining popularity, this isn’t likely at this time. Mikheil Saakashvili is coveting the post as a way out of the mess in Odesa, but after having the tables run on him by Trukhanov, he doesn’t appear ready for the huge task ahead. In addition, given the Kremlin’s hatred of him as well as the current Georgian government’s politicized criminal case against him, having a Premier unable to make “state visits” to both countries is problematic. In addition, given the West’s growing dissatisfaction with the pace of reforms in Ukraine, a new face is needed and the Poroshenko administration knows this. It would appear that the only “new face” with clean hands and a record of achievement is Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko. Having just saved the country from financial collapse, Jaresko may be the only candidate for Premier that Ukraine can propose to continue Western aid and support. Jaresko as Prime Minister? Stranger things have happened in Ukraine. Stay tuned….
Election Results Overview
The dust is beginning to settle for many races following the October 25th local elections. Meanwhile almost 30 of the largest cities will hold runoffs for mayor on November 15th. Here is a quick rundown on the major races.
Preparing for Runoffs:1. Kyiv – the drama over which candidate Vitaliy Klitchko will face in round two has finally been settled with Boryslav Bereza emerging as the challenger. Bereza won just 8.8% of the vote, followed by former Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko with 8.5%, former appointed city head from Motherland Volodymyr Bondarenko with 7.9% and Samopomich’s Serhiy Gusovsky with 7.7%. Boryslav, an independent MP from Kyiv, is mostly known for his white supremacist views and his billboards featuring a red “SS” style lightning bolt and the words “Plan B”. The fact that Bereza is in the runoff provides the Russians with another PR victory against Ukraine and will facilitate a fresh wave of discussion about anti-Semitism in Ukraine. While Klitchko will be the clear winner of the runoff (as he scored 41% in the first round), the real loser is the city of Kyiv for giving Bereza enough votes to make the runoff in the first place. In the city council election, Solidarity led with 27%, followed by Samopomich at 13%, Svoboda at 11%, Motherland at nine percent and Omelchenko’s Yednist party at six percent.
2. Lviv – Two-term incumbent Andriy Sadoviy narrowly missed a first round victory by scoring 49.2% on October 25th. The Samopomich Party leader will face his arch rivals from Svoboda Party, in the runoff as former Speaker Ruslan Koshulynskiy edged out other candidates with 12%. Barring something unforeseen though, the second round will be a mere coronation rather than an actual election with Andriy Sadoviy winning a third term. On the city council, Samopomich dominated with 32%, followed by Solidarity with 13%, Civic Position with ten percent (their candidate finished third in the mayoral election), Svoboda with ten percent, People’s Control with eight, Ukrop with six and the new Ukrainian Halychyna Party with five percent.
3. Dnipropetrovsk – Though Kolomoyskyi’s candidate Borys Filatov led by seven percent in the exit poll (39-33%), he is trailing in the actual vote count by two percent (38% -36%) to the Opposition Bloc’s Oleksandr Vilkul. With the Poroshenko team’s not so subtle support of Opposition Bloc in the runoff, this will be a true “no holds barred battle” between the President and the oligarch. A victory over Kolomoyskyi here, even if by the Opposition Bloc, would be a victory for Bankova Street. The arrest of Kolomoyskyi ally Gennadiy Korban is a clear sign that the Poroshenko team is determined to defeat Kolomoyskyi in his hometown (as well as distract attention from incompetence in the Prosecutor General’s Office). However, don’t underestimate the influence of Mr. Kolomoyskyi in his hometown. Thus, the Dnipropetrovsk mayoral election promises to be the most exciting runoff to watch on November 15th as the race is a true “toss-up”. Meanwhile in the city council elections, the Opposition Bloc scored 31% to finish first with Ukrop second at 25%. Community Strength received nine percent, followed by Solidarity at seven percent and Samopomich at six percent.
4. Lutsk – Incumbent Mayor Mykola Romanyuk with Solidarity is leading Ukrop’s Oleksandr Tovstenyuk by a 40-33% margin after round one. While the historical voting trends tend to favor Solidarity’s victory in the runoff, Kolomoyskyi’s Ihor Palytsya (a Lutsk native and formerly the Odesa Governor) will be pulling out all the stops for an Ukrop win in his hometown. Their candidate, Oleksandr Tovstenyuk, is the Head of the Ihor Palytsya Charitable Fund. Thus, there is no doubt that Christmas will come early to Lutsk this November as the fund pours out lavish gifts on Lutsk residents. Kolomoyskyi and Palytsya have made this a “must win” race to defeat Poroshenko in western Ukraine. In the city council election, Ukrop dominated with 29% of the vote followed by Solidarity at 17%. Svoboda and Samopomich each received nine percent, Motherland and People’s Control received seven percent each and the Radical Party won six percent to receive seats on the Lutsk city council.
5. Ivano Frankivsk – former MP and businessman Ihor Nasalyk with Solidarity is leading Ruslan Martsinkiv from Svoboda by a 28-23% margin after the first round. MP Oleksandr Shevchenko who recently quit the Poroshenko faction in Parliament by comparing it to the “Titanic”, ran with Kolomoyskyi’s Ukrop Party and finished third with 20%. He was followed by former Mayor Viktor Anushkevychus with Ukrainian People’s Party (formerly a splinter of Rukh) with 17%. While Nasalyk has the financial and administrative resources in his favor, an anti-Poroshenko backlash is not out of the question. Thus, keep an eye on this race in Halychyna. Meanwhile on the city council, Svoboda won the most seats with 15 deputies, followed by Solidarity with nine, Samopomich with seven, Ukrop with five, Motherland with four and the Ukrainian People’s Party with two.
6. Zaporizhya – incumbent Mayor Oleksandr Sin and his 2010 rival Serhiy Kaltsev (then Party of Regions and now Nash Krai) were both rejected by the voters in 2015 as two new candidates have emerged. The leader is independent (Akhmetov backed) Volodymyr Buryak, the Head Engineer at Zaporizhstahl (Zaporizhya Steel Company) and Poroshenko bloc MP Mykola Frolov. Buryak led Frolov 23-19% after round one. Frolov narrowly edged Ukrop’s candidate Yaroslav Gryshyn who finished third with 17%. Incumbent Mayor Oleksandr Sin scored just nine percent in his re-election bid which is evidence that in politics, the sin of betrayal is not often forgivable by the voters. Sin’s 2010 rival Serhiy Kaltsev finished fifth with just six percent. In the city council election, Opposition Bloc won 20 seats, followed by Ukrop with nine, Solidarity and “New Politics Party” with eight each, Nash Krai scored seven mandates, and Samopomich and Motherland won six seats each.
7. Vinnitsya –City Council Secretary Serhiy Morgunov leads Lyudmila Shcherbakivska from Motherland by a 48-14% margin. Morgunov, is the candidate from the tiny Vinnitsya European Strategy Party which is has the support of the Poroshenko family. European Strategy Party also led the balloting for city council with 27%, followed by Solidarity at 15%, Motherland at 13%, Svoboda at ten percent and Samopomich at six percent.
8. Zhytomyr – the mayoral runoff will feature the City Council Secretary against the Deputy City Mayor. Solidarity’s Serhiy Sukhomlin led 28-26% over Motherland’s Lyubov Tsymbalyuk after the votes were counted with candidates from Svoboda and Samopomich trailing with 11% each. Sukhomlin, the incumbent First Deputy Mayor is expected to have the advantage in the runoff over Tsymbalyuk, as Solidarity candidates for mayor have won in Berdychiv and Novohrad-Volynskiy in the region already. In the city council election, Solidarity led with 20%, followed by Motherland a close second at 18%, Samopomich scored 12%, Svoboda ten percent and Opposition Bloc registered nine percent.
9. Uzhgorod – Renaissance Party’s Bohdan Andriyiv leds 21-14% over independent former Mayor Serhiy Ratushnyak. Solidarity’s Mykhailo Kachur finished third with 11%. Andriyiv currently serves as Secretary of the City Council and a victory by him would give Kolomoyskyi an important victory in western Ukraine. Ratushnyak’s term as Mayor was remembered mostly for his frequent anti-Semitic comments. In addition, Ratushnyak still holds the record in Parliament for switching factions seven times in one term. On the city council, Renaissance Party has eight seats, followed by the small “Patriot Party” with five, Solidarity with five, Motherland and Nash Krai with three each, and Samopomich with two.
10. Kirovohrad – Solidarity’s Andriy Raykovich and independent Artem Stryzhakov appear to be headed for a runoff. Raykovich, who is the director of a local meat factory, received 27.5% to Stryzhakov’s 24.6%. Stryzhakov, a local entrepreneur, edged former MP Andriy Tabalov who received 20%. Tabalov, the candidate from Nash Krai, is best remembered for the fact that he and his father quit the Motherland faction to support the Party of Regions in 2013. Tabalov is challenging the results in court in hopes of making the runoff against Raykovich. On the city council election, nine parties won seats. Solidarity finished first with 18% followed by Nash Krai at 15%, Motherland at 13%, Opposition Bloc at 11%, Ukrop at 9%, “Ridne Misto” at 6%, Samopomich at 6%, Radical Party at six percent and Svoboda at five percent.
11. Oleksandriya – Kirovohrad’s second largest city re-elected incumbent Mayor Stepan Tsapyuk over Solidarity’s Andriy Kolomiytsev. Tsapyuk ran as an independent and defeated Kolomiytsev 45-33%.
12. Nikopol – Solidarity’s Andriy Fisak and Ukrop’s Dmytro Bychkov will face off in the runoff. Fisak received 33% to Bychkov’s 17%. In the city council elections, Renaissance won 12 seats, Ukrop won eight, Solidarity scored seven, the Opposition Bloc won six, Motherland received five, and Community Strength got four deputies.
13. Dniprodzerzhynsk – in one of the few bright spots in Dnipropetrovsk oblast this election for Solidarity Party, their candidate, Andriy Bilousov finished first place and will make the runoff with 33% of the vote. Ukrop’s Yevhen Nayda finished a distant second with 13%, which was enough to edge out Ihor Lisnychiy with Nash Krai to make the runoff.
14. Chernivtsi – incumbent Mayor Oleksiy Kaspruk led 39-27% over his nearest rival, Vitaliy Mykhaylishyn with Ridne Misto (Hometown) in round one. Kaspruk, an independent, is a strong favorite to prevail in the runoff. On the city council, Mykhaylishyn’s Ridne Misto led with 18%, followed by Solidarity with 15% and Motherland with 13%. Samopomich and People’s Control each scored nine percent, Svoboda received eight percent. Meanwhile both Ukrop and Opposition Bloc narrowly missed the five percent barrier at 4.8% and 4.7% respectively.
14. Pavlohrad – Ukrop’s Yevgeniy Terekhov and the Opposition Bloc’s Anatolyi Verteks appeared to be heading into a runoff following the October 25thelection. However a ruling by the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Ukraine declared that since Pavlohrad’s population had officially fallen below the 90,000 person requirement of the law, there would be no runoff and first round results would stand as the final results. That ruling was appealed to the Kyiv Administrative Court which then overruled the CEC. Thus, the runoff will take place after all. The first round showed the Opposition Bloc with 35% in the mayoral contest with Ukrop’s Terekhov second with 18%. The Radical Party finished third with 13% and the Renaissance Party candidate scored ten percent. Given the publicity with this race and likelihood that the votes of the Radical Party and Renaissance Party candidates will go to Terekhov, this race is a toss-up in the runoff. However even if Terekhov pulls out a victory, the city council already has half of the 36 city deputies from the Opposition Bloc, which will making governing the city difficult.
15. Mykolayiv – incumbent Mayor Yuri Granaturov was stunned on election night when Samopomich’s Oleksandr Syenkevich edged past him by 400 votes (out of almost 125,000 votes) to make the runoff. Syenkevich will face the Opposition Bloc’s Ihor Dyatlov in round two. Dyatlov received 35% to Syenkevich’s 20.4% with Granaturov at 20.1%. The fact that a candidate from Samopomich is in the runoff is a welcome development in Mykolayiv, however the now lame duck mayor will have a strong influence on the result of the runoff. That is likely to give the Opposition Bloc the upper hand – at least for now. In the city council election, the Opposition Bloc success continued by winning 26 seats, followed by Samopomich with ten seats, and Nash Krai and Solidarity with eight seats each.
16. Rivne – Incumbent Mayor Volodymyr Homko will face a runoff with Dmytro Yakymets from Community Control Party. Homko led 39-19% in round one with Svoboda’s candidate finishing third with 11% and Solidarity fourth with 9%. Given these results, Homko is the favorite for re-election in the runoff. In the city council races, Solidarity received 16%, Motherland 14%, Svoboda 12%, Samopomich 11%, People’s Control nine percent, Radical Party eight percent and Ukrop scored five percent to win seats on the council.
17. Sumy – in one of the few bright moments for Motherland Party on Election Day, incumbent Mayor Oleksandr Lysenko almost won a first round victory and is well positioned to triumph easily in round two. Lysenko received 46% to Anatoloy Yepifanovs’ 14%. Yepifanov, the former Yushchenko era Governor, ran on the People’s Will Party ticket. The city council will have six parties represented included Motherland with 18 seats, Solidarity with nine, Samopomich, “For Ukraine” and Svoboda with four each, and Opposition Bloc with three.
18. Kherson – independent cumbent Mayor Volodymyr Mykolayenko led after round one with 24%. Nash Krai’s Volodymyr Saldo, who received 16% of the vote will be his opponent in the runoff. Interestingly, as evidence of Ukrainian exit polls being more about influencing expectations rather than actual results, Motherland Vladyslav Manger was expected to be in the runoff as exit polls showed him receiving 16% versus Saldo’s 13%. Instead Manger received 12% with the Opposition Bloc’s Vyacheslav Yaremenko getting nine percent to finish fourth. Saldo with Nash Krai, is a former Mayor of Kherson and former Party of Regions official. Saldo was upset by Mykolayenko (then with Motherland) in the 2010 contest. However when Mykolayenko refused to allow Yuliya Tymoshenko to make personnel decisions in the mayor’s office, he was kicked out of Motherland Party and as a result, is running as an independent. In the city council races, Solidarity led with 17%, followed by the Opposition Bloc with 14%, Nash Krai at 13%, Samopomich at 11%, Motherland at nine percent, and Ukrop with eight percent.
19. Cherkasy – the 2015 mayoral election is a rematch of last year’s race between incumbent Serhiy Odarych and Motherland’s Anatoliy Bondarenko. Odarych served two terms before a battle to try to force oligarch Dmytro Firtash to pay taxes resulted in his impeachment and a criminal case in 2013. Odarych beat the case and emerged triumphant by winning the mayoral election last year. Odarych, owner of the “Cherkasy Monkeys” basketball team, received 23% to Bondarenko’s 12%, with Andriy Bortnik from Ukrop finished third with 10%. Odarych’s Free Democrats Party also led the city council results with 14% versus 11% for Solidarity and 10.5% for Motherland. Other parties winning city council seats include “Cherkashani” with ten percent, Svoboda, Samopomich and Ukrop each at eight percent and the Radical Party at five. The runoff rematch is likely to result in an Odarych win.
20.Khmelnytskiy – Incumbent Mayor Kostantyn Chernylevskiy was stunned on Election Day when Svoboda’s Oleksandr Symchyshyn not only forced a runoff but was the leading vote getter. Svoboda’s Symchyshyn led the incumbent mayor by 603 votes out of more than 100,000 cast. After the vote tally, Symchyshyn had 24.2% to Chernylevskiy’s 23.6%. Solidarity’s candidate finished third with 16%, followed by longtime Motherland MP Oleg Lukashuk with 15% and Samopomich’s candidate with ten percent. With the race now headed to a runoff, this gives Svoboda their best chance outside Ternopil to elect a large city mayor. In the city council election, six parties crossed the five percent barrier to win seats including Svoboda with 18%, Samopomich with 15%, Solidarity with 12%, “For Concrete Cases Party” with 12%, Motherland with ten percent, and “Close Party” with seven percent. Ukrop narrowly missed winning seats with 4.6%.
21. Chernihiv – incumbent Mayor Oleksandr Sokolov’s bid for a fourth term has run into trouble as he now faces a runoff with former Yushchenko-era Governor and Solidarity MP Vladyslav Atroshchenko. Sokolov ran as the candidate from Nash Krai and led 34-23% with Samopomich and Motherland candidates trailing with 11% and 10% respectively. Businessman Atroshchenko has the financial resources to compete so this race should be interesting to watch during the runoff. Seven parties won seats on the city council led by Nash Krai at 23%, Solidarity at 18%, Motherland at 12%, Samopomich at nine percent, and Republic Party, Democratic Alliance and Opposition Bloc each at five percent.
22.Berdyansk – the Azov seaside resort city in Zaporizhya oblast will see a runoff between incumbent Mayor Oleksiy Bakay who is running as an independent and Nash Krai’s Volodymyr Chepurniy. Chepurniy led Bakay by a solid 37-22% margin in a field of 27 candidates after round one. A victory here by Nash Krai would be one of their crowning achievements this election cycle. Nash Krai also led the city council election winning 11 seats with Opposition Bloc next at eight seats, Solidarity followed with five seats, then Motherland and Samopomich were next with four seats each, and Renaissance and the Party of Veterans of Afghanistan both won two seats.
23. Melitopol – Zaporizhya’s second largest city will feature a runoff between Serhiy Minko with Solidarity and the Opposition Bloc’s Oleksandr Ryabykov. Solidarity’s candidate Minko is the Secretary of the city council and Rybykov is an oblast council deputy and a leading cancer doctor in the region. Minko led 32-24% in round one with candidates from Samopomich and the Party of Veterans of Afghanistan following with 16% each. The Opposition Bloc dominated the city council elections with 40% of the vote. They were followed in a distant second place by Solidarity with 16%, Samopomich 12%, the Party of Veterans of Afghanistan with seven percent and Nash Krai scored six percent.
24. Bila Tservka – Kyiv oblast’s second largest city will host a runoff between independent Konstantyn Yefymenko and Samopomich’s Gennadiy Dykiy on November 15th. Yefymenko, Head of the NGO Bila Tserkva Tomorrow, led 28-24% over Samopomich’s Dykiy after round one.
25. Syevyerodonetsk – the acting seat of Ukrainian government in Luhansk oblast will hold a runoff between incumbent Mayor Valentyn Kazakov and businessman Volodymyr Hrytsyshyn. Kazakov led Hrytsyshyn 26-23% in a field of 18 candidates. Opposition Bloc candidates won decisively in Luhansk’s other two mayoral contests where elections were held (Lysychansk and Rubizhansk). In the city council election, the Opposition Bloc dominated with 39% followed by Nash Krai at 20%, Solidarity at ten percent, Samopomich at seven percent, the Radical Party at six percent and Motherland at five percent.
26.Poltava – Incumbent Mayor Oleksandr Mamay will face a runoff against former Mayor (with Motherland from 2006-2010) and Solidarity Party candidate Andriy Matkovskiy. Mamay, with his “Sovist”/Conscience Ukraine” Party, led Matkovskiy 23-18% in round one. The race is a toss-up in the runoff though as the other 59% of votes were dispersed amongst 16 other candidates. On the city council, a whopping ten parties won seats. Solidarity received 14%, followed closely by Motherland at 13%, Radical Party at eight percent, Ukrop and the Party of Ordinary People Serhiy Kaplan, Ridne Misto/Hometown and Svoboda all received seven percent each, the Agrarian Party and Opposition Bloc both scored six percent and Renaissance passed the barrier with five percent.
27. Kremenchuk – First Deputy Mayor Viktor Kalashnyk trails his fellow Deputy Mayor Vitaliy Maletskiy by a 21-14% margin after the first round of voting. Kalashnyk is running with Solidarity Party while his colleague Maletskiy is running with the small Poruch/Close Party. Candidates from Opposition Bloc and Ukrop finished third and fourth respectively with 13 and 11% each with ten other candidates splitting the remaining votes. The runoff should make an interesting race as it appears to be a toss-up.
28. Kramatorsk – Independent Andriy Pankov nearly won a first round victory with 48% of the vote. His runoff opponent will be Maksym Yefimov who is an independent candidate supported by Solidarity. Yefimov received 33% but will have difficulty to consolidate the bulk of the remaining electorate behind him in round two. In the city council election, Opposition Bloc received 48% followed by Nash Krai at 20%, Solidarity at 11% and the Party of Pensioners at five percent.
29. Kriviy Rih – incumbent Mayor Yuri Vilkul and father of Oleksandr Vilkul who made the runoff for mayor in Dnipropetrovsk, came close to an outright majority in round one with 42%. Samopomich’s Yuri Mylobog will be his opponent in round two by edging out Mykola Kolesnyk by 1.2% (9.9% to 8.7%). This makes Vilkul the odds on favorite in the runoff. Meanwhile in the city council election, the Opposition Bloc led with 34%, while Ukrop followed with 14%. Samopomich scored 12%, with Motherland next at ten percent, Solidarity at eight percent and Strong People at 6%.
First Round Winners:1. Kharkiv – like or hate incumbent Mayor Gennadiy Kernes, the voters of Kharkiv spoke resoundingly in favor of his re-election. Kernes scored a massive 65-12% victory over Samopomich’s Taras Sytenko as well as won an outright majority for the Renaissance Party on the Kharkiv City Council. Kernes alliance with Kolomoyskyi’s party gives the oligarch bragging rights in his battle with Poroshenko in the old capital of Soviet Ukraine. In the city council election, Renaissance won 53%, followed by Samopomich at a distant 12%. Both Solidarity and Nash Krai also won seats on the council with seven percent each.
2. Odesa – the “official” results in the “Pearl of the Sea” city of Odesa show incumbent Gennadiy Trukhanov winning a first round victory by a 53-26% margin over Solidarity’s Sasha Borovik. Former Mayor Eduard Hurvits had nine percent and MP Serhiy Kivalov who announced his withdrawal from the race still scored 6%. The “official” exit poll showed Trukhanov short of a first round victory though with a 48-31% lead over Borovik. This gives Kolomoyskyi another key victory in one of Ukraine’s largest cities. In the city council races, Trukhanov’s “Belief and Actions Party” won 33% followed by Solidarity at 17%. The Opposition Bloc scored 14%, Kivalov’s Ukrainian Sea Party won 7% and Samopomich received five percent to overcome the barrier.
3. Ternopil – Incumbent Svoboda Mayor Serhiy Nadal won a decisive first round with 58% over Samopomich Parliamentary Deputy Taras Pastukh who received just 11%. While Sadoviy may have beaten back Svoboda Party in neighboring Lviv, the nationalist party maintains their hold on Ternopil. Svoboda will also have 13 seats on the city council, followed by Solidarity and Samopomich with seven each. Civic Position, Motherland and People’s Control all won four seats each and the Radical Party scored three mandates.
4. Mukachevo – the region nicknamed “Baloga-stan” elects another Baloga family member to public office. Andriy Baloga, the oldest son of former Chief of Staff Viktor Baloga, was by a 54-27% margin over his opponent from Kolomoyskyi’s Renaissance Party. The Baloga family party “United Center won 17 of 35 seats on the city council, with Renaissance finishing second with nine. Samopomich, Motherland and the Party of Hungarians of Ukraine each won three seats on the council. Andriy Baloga’s wife is Edith Heletei, the daughter of the former Minister of Defense during the summer 2014 Anti-Terrorism Operation in the Donbass.
5. Lysychansk – Opposition Bloc candidate and Director of the Lysychansk Coal Company Serhiy Shilin defeated Solidarity’s Eduard Shvedov by a 52-17% margin.
6. Slovyansk – The Opposition Bloc continues to perform well in Slovyansk as their candidate for Mayor, Vadym Lyakh won a first round victory over independent Oleg Zontov 52-18%. Opposition Bloc’s victory this year, and also in the Parliamentary election here last year indicates that the electorate is still in an anti-Kyiv mood.
7. Bilhorod-Dnistrovskiy – Former Ecology Minister Ihor Shevchenko’s bid for city mayor fell short by a 45-26% margin against Alla Hinak from the Solidarity Party.