IRI Eurasia Director Briefs U.S. Helsinki Commission on Ukraine’s Parliamentary Elections
Stephen Nix, director of Eurasia programs at IRI, briefed the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe on Ukraine’s October 26, 2014 parliamentary elections and the country’s post-election challenges.
Washington, DC – Stephen Nix, director of Eurasia programs at IRI, today briefed the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, chaired by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (MD) and co-chaired by Representative Christopher H. Smith (NJ), on Ukraine’s October 26, 2014 parliamentary elections and the country’s post-election challenges, the most significant being threats to Ukraine’s territorial integrity by Russia.
“Now, more than ever, the West must stand alongside Ukraine,” Nix stated in opening his remarks, “and assist it wherever possible in its efforts to bolster and consolidate its democracy, move itself closer to Europe, and defend itself against overt and inexcusable aggression from its neighbor to the east.”
In summarizing the findings of IRI’s delegation that observed Ukraine’s October 26 parliamentary elections, Nix commented, “IRI was the only American observer organization to witness voting in recently liberated territory in Donetsk oblast…Observers were impressed by the patriotism and willingness of the residents who participated in the electoral process; and IRI especially commends the brave election commissions who were able to operate polling stations on Election Day…to ensure that as many voters as possible were able to vote as part of a united Ukraine.”
In outlining the challenges Ukraine’s new government faces, Nix addressed the increasing threats from Russia, growing persecution of the Crimean Tatar people and the mounting domestic challenges that are a result of “years of abuse and corruption.”
“These threats to Ukraine’s territory and its people are real, and the international community should support President Poroshenko in his efforts to resolve this conflict. Ukraine will not be able to pursue the reforms needed to move closer to Europe while its territory is under siege by foreign actors. A peaceful and whole Ukraine is of paramount strategic importance and must be a priority for the West.”
In closing his remarks, Nix outlined the work IRI carries out to support the Ukrainian people and their democratic development. He specifically highlighted IRI’s work connecting local government leaders from different regions of the country to share best practices. “Among many study trips conducted thus far, IRI has brought together councilmembers from regions bordering Russia to far western Ukraine to share best practices in democratic governance and to create interregional networks of reform-oriented leaders. In the process, both sides confront stereotypes of the other, realizing that the stereotypes are not accurate and too frequently used as political tools.”Top