Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
During the electoral campaign in Ukraine the cases of outdoor political campaign advertising being damaged have become frequent. Despite the fact that in most cases responsibility for the vandalism of political outdoor advertising is claimed by national patriotic organisations, the police haven’t yet held any of the offenders accountable.
Human rights activists note that it is mainly the billboards and kiosks of opposition forces that are subjected to damage, while pro-government – first and foremost the advertising mediums of Petro Poroshenko – advertisements remain untouched.
Thus, last week unknown persons graffitied the billboards of the Ukrainian presidential candidate from the “Oppositional Bloc” party of Aleksandr Vilkul in Uzhgorod, Kherson, and Cherkassy, where two advert boards exhibiting the image of the presidential candidate from the “NASHI” party Evgeny Murayev were also destroyed. And in Lutsk unknown persons graffitied advert boards with the inscription: “The servant of the people is the president, after all”.
In the city of Kremenets in the Ternopol region the use of red paint to damage the billboards of Oleg Lyashko (“Radical Party”) was recorded on February 8th. And earlier, on February 5th, in the city Marganets in the Dnepropetrovsk region unknown persons threw eggs and stones at a campaign bus bearing the symbols and portrait of the Ukrainian presidential candidate Oleg Lyashko, the so-called “Lyashko Bus”.
Also, the billboards of Aleksandr Shevchenko (Ukrainian Association of Patriots – UKROP) are systematically subjected to vandalism, in particular in Krivoy Rog (on January 18th) and Kiev (on January 22th). But since the violations were recorded before the official nomination of the candidate for the presidential post (on January 21st), these incidents can’t be considered as the obstruction of campaigning and the destruction of pre-election materials, since according to part 1 of article 57 of the Law of Ukraine “On presidential elections” the pre-election campaign begins the day after a Ukrainian presidential candidate registers with the Central Election Commission and comes to an end at midnight on the last Friday before the election day.
Observers also recorded damage inflicted to the billboards and kiosks of “Opposition Platform – For Life“ by a group of radicals in Kherson, Kharkov, (on February 10th), and Lutsk (on February 6th and 7th).
As a reminder, according to article 12 of the Law of Ukraine “On Ukrainian Presidential Elections”, a subject of the electoral process is a party that is nominated as a candidate for the Ukrainian presidency. And since a candidate from “Opposition Platform – For Life” wasn’t registered, despite the statements about the nomination of a candidate for the presidential elections, this political force didn’t become a subject of the electoral process. Therefore, the information about such a party on a billboard can’t be considered as materials possessing a campaign character (political advertising) for presidential elections. That’s why the actions of the perpetrators who damaged the billboards don’t constitute a crime under article 157 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – obstructing the activity of another subject of the electoral process at a time when they are exercising their authority, accompanied by violence and the destruction or damaging of property.
As the human rights activists of “Uspishna Varta” reported on Telegram, on February 8th the Central Election Commission of Ukraine finished the registration of the Ukrainian presidential candidates who will take part in the next elections scheduled for March 31st. 44 candidates were nominated for the post of the head of state, although initially at least 89 packages of documents were submitted to the CEC. This figure is not final, because any of the registered candidates may refuse to participate in the elections (for any reason, including in favour of another candidate) until March 7th.
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