IRI President Mark Green Talks to WBAY about Observing Ukraine Elections

Wisconsin Delegate Witnesses A Historic Election
By Jennifer Wilson

Former Wisconsin Congressman, Ambassador Mark Green, has been in Ukraine since last Thursday to monitor what’s been called a historic democratic election.

Over the phone Monday, he tells Action Two News how he witnessed a group of people determined to take control of their future despite threats. Mark Green’s election day experience in Wisconsin as a winning candidate, presents a stark contrast to election day in Ukraine as an observer.

Due to threats of violence, some polling places were forced to close in a small eastern part of the country.

“Where you have these armed thugs who have taken things over and shut everything down,” says Green.

But nearly 90% of Ukraine’s polling places were able to open. In Kiev, Ambassador Mark Green describes watching the first ballot cast.

“An older gentleman filled out the ballots, took them very seriously, walked over to this glass ballot box, put the ballot in and as he turned to walk to the front door he clapped his hands and said “Democracy!” and walked out.”

A high voter turn out created long lines and crowded hallways despite a day filled with hail storms, intense heat and the constant threat of danger.

“In one of the polling places near where one of my staff was, a Molotov Cocktail was thrown, disrupting voting obviously, but the poll workers went back to it. They got it going again!”

At another polling place:
“Somebody, we think we know who, sent text messages basically threatening them not to show up for work, they did.  And every part of the country had election workers,” says Green.

And people continued to show up and vote. “They weren’t exuberant as much as they were determined to do this, to show that they could do it.”

Preliminary exit polls show Petro Poroshenko winning more than 50% of the votes.

“Significantly, importantly, Poroshenko won everywhere. And there’s no evidence that if even there had been voting in those occupied areas, that the outcome would have been at all changed,” says Green. It’s an outcome election observers believe reflects the genuine will of the people.

“Results are encouraging because it gives a chance for the country to come together and really start to move forward,” says Green.

Green will be recommending that the U.S. provide Ukraine assistance.

“They’re not asking us for lots of money, they’re asking us for soldiers, they’re asking for technical assistance, helping them to build their capacity so that they can rise themselves,” Green explains. “Secretary Albright, myself, Senator Ayotte, helping to lead our delegation, we all agree hat this is something worth doing. This election wasn’t the end of the road but the beginning of the road, they have a lot of work to do” he says adding, “with very modest assistance we can help them be what they want to be which is a country that enjoys at least a shadow of the blessings that we have.”

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