Ukrainian 2019 Presidential Election: How the First Round Happened

March 31st in Ukraine was the day that a new president was elected. Ukrainians had to choose one of 39 candidates.

Initially, there were 44 candidates, but later five people declared that they were withdrawing their candidatures: Andrey Sadovoy, Dmitry Gnap, Dmitry Dobrodomov, Evgeny Murayev, and Sergey Krivonos.

At the same time, the sixth withdrawal, Aleksandr Moroz, happened after the deadline – four days before the election – so the name of the politician will remain on the ballot anyway. The same applies to Sergey Taruta.

In addition to the record-long list, voters faced a more serious problem – this is Poroshenko’s voter bribery scheme known as “webs” , which his shadow HQ officers intend to use in order to buy votes. Today it will be clear whether this system of bribery, unprecedented in its size, works or not.

When does voting open and close?

Polling stations opened from 08:00 to 20:00. Citizens of Ukraine aged 18 years and above could participate in the elections. At the same time, IDPs had to write in advance an application to the Voter Register, change their place of voting, find out which polling station is the closest one to them, and come there on election day. If there is a second round of voting, the procedure will need to be repeated and another application has to be submitted no later than April 16th – five days before the election. The Central Election Commission (CEC) expects that more than 100,000 citizens will temporarily change their place of voting for the presidential election.

When will the result be announced?

The results of three Ukrainian exit polls will be announced in the evening of March 31st, as well as during the morning of April 1st. They will shed light on how Ukrainians voted. The CEC has to announce the results no later than April 10th. If no candidate obtains a majority of votes, i.e., 50% + 1 vote, then the second round will be announced. It can take place on April 21st.

How much did the election cost?

More than 2.3 billion hryvnia was allocated from the budget for the 2019 presidential election. The work of the State Register of Voters costs more than 223 million hryvnia. The CEC’s estimate of its own expenses for the preparation and carrying out of the presidential election exceeded 282 million hryvnia.

All timestamps below are in local time.


April 1st

01:02 Analysis of the exit poll and a forecast for the second round was published by the political expert Gleb Lyashenko.

“1. Zelensky was able to mobilise his electorate already in the 1st round and wins with a huge margin.

2. Poroshenko ended up ahead of Tymoshenko. Mostly due to administrative resources and falsifications.

3. Yury Boyko confidently gains 10%, ahead of Vilkul (as I predicted) by 2.5 times, and gains the status of leader of the Southeastern opposition.

4. Tymoshenko will surely try to expose Poroshenko’s machinations, which will not personally bring any dividends to her, but will greatly complicate the life of Petro Alekseevich in the 2nd round.

5. Poroshenko will outright lose to Zelensky in the 2nd round. No agreement with Kolomoisky will help – war is war”.

0:12  “We saw the press conference of our guarantor. He once again said that I was a puppet of Kolomoisky. As the guarantor said, what to do? I have only one question, I think he will see it. So you are a puppet of Svinarchuk or Svinarchuk is your puppet? If you can, please tell our guarantor,” said Zelensky.

March 31st

21:45 Statement of Anatoly Gritsenko: he will not support Poroshenko in the second round of voting “under any circumstances”.

“In the second round I will not support Poroshenko under any circumstances.

My personal opinion: I do not want another five years of deception and looting, so under no circumstances will I support Poroshenko. I know him well. I can not appeal to vote for Zelensky, because I do not know him.

Our team has done everything so that the expression of will was fair and transparent. In these elections, the Ukrainians had a choice, and among the candidates were those who had solid programs”.

21:36 The journalist Vyacheslav Chechilo published his “profile” of each candidate:

“First thoughts on this past election:

  1. Poroshenko, as we see, acquired votes for himself, but these are single digit percentages, and not double digit ones. So nothing out of the ordinary. For now at least. Let’s wait for the data of the CEC.
  2. Tymoshenko got what she deserved. A mediocre campaign, a complete lack of understanding of what to say to people, a logical result.
  3. Zelensky got what was ‘his’. Now for him the most important thing is not to mess it up. But this will not be simple, because he will be drawn into ‘talking’ and playing ‘big politics’.
  4. Boyko scored as much as expected, although some inflated hysteria, promising him a record result. And, of course, he had no chance of entering the second round of voting. Boyko scored his % especially for this reason. The authorities did not impede him at all, and even helped him, having chosen him as a ‘convenient’ enemy. If Boyko had real chances to bypass Poroshenko, then the latter’s attitude would have been different and he would have scored even less.
  5. Lyashko scored not much – it seems his ‘star’ has faded away and it’s not at all a fact that his ‘Radical Party’ will enter the next parliament. There are now too many clowns in politics – it’s hard to compete.
  6. Smeshko scored a lot. He was introduced as a technical candidate against Gritsenko, but he almost surpassed him. This is probably the merit of Smeshko himself, but the unmet public demand for a strong hand and the traditional mediocrity of his counterpart’s campaign played in his favour.”

21:20 The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) does not consider Oleg Lyashko’s exhibition of his filled-out ballot paper after he voted to be a violation and refused to open criminal proceedings. This was stated to “Ukrainske Novini” by the spokesperson of the bureau.

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21:05 Petro Poroshenko commented on the possible development of events. 

“Fate has ordered me to be in the second round, I am not ashamed to say this, with Kolomoisky’s puppet. We will not give Kolomoisky any chance,” he said at a briefing, and added that from tomorrow he will start to fight for victory in the second round.

21:00Vladimir Zelensky recorded an appeal for his voters. 

“People, hello! … Today we are together. And each of you is doing a great job to make our country grow. I am very grateful to all of you. I believe that we have such a large army of amazing, unique, awesome, creative, warm, and cheerful people. We still have a lot of work ahead.”

20:45 Saakashvili wrote on Facebook that Vladimir Zelensky is the next president of Ukraine:

“Vladimir Zelensky is the next president of Ukraine! I urge all democratic forces to support him without any preconditions. Now the defeat of Poroshenko and his clique is a terrific chance for Ukraine. The New Forces will fight against fraud and for the victory of President Zelensky!”

20:35 Petro Poroshenko spoke at his HQ. He does not hide his joy, he constantly smiles and laughs and many times thanked everyone for their votes. He noted that the “plan of Moscow” was disrupted by the results of voting in the first round and expressed confidence that the same will happen in the second round.

“The Kremlin will have to work with Poroshenko again. They will not get anywhere. But it’s important: I don’t feel euphoria. I critically perceive the signals that Ukrainians give. This [Zelensky’s first place] is a signal to our team to work on mistakes. Before and after the second round I am ready for dialogue with those who I could not convince before the first round. Now I want to turn separately to the younger generation (it is believed that this is Zelensky’s electorate): I understand the reasons for your displeasure. I heard you. But you hear me: we do everything for you”:

20:20 Yury Boyko made a statement about the results of the published exit poll.

“I am very pleased with the result of today’s election, now the main thing is to protect it. We know that our figures are understated, because people are afraid of the authorities and are afraid to say that they voted for the representative of ‘Opposition Platform – For Life’. I’m sure we will have a good result in the parliamentary election, because today people voted for me and this means that they voted for our party. We start preparing [for the parliamentary election] right after the presidential campaign and are confident that everything will be fine!”

20.10 The HQ of Tymoshenko said that the results of parallel counting for the second round has Zelensky with 27% and Tymoshenko with 20.9%, and in the third place there is Poroshenko with 17.5%.

The results of the exit poll made by the “Razumkov Center” and the “Deminitsiativ” as of 18:00 has the following result:

  1. Zelensky – 30.4
  2. Poroshenko – 17.8
  3. Tymoshenko – 14.2
  4. Boyko – 9.8
  5. Gritsenko – 7.1
  6. Smeshko – 6.4
  7. Lyashko – 4.8
  8. Vilkul – 4.0
  9. Koshulinsky – 1.8

The rest have less than 1%. 

The final results will be published at 23:00.

19:30 One hour is left before the end of the voting, and the police have reported about 1,700 violations.

These facts are mainly related to illegal campaigning – 122; photographing ballots – 109; bribing a voter – 40; damage to the ballot paper – 31; false messages about mining – 18; attempting to remove a ballot paper from a polling station – 11

According to these facts, law enforcement officers started 25 criminal proceedings and drew up 15 administrative protocols.

18:53 Mustafa Nayyem, an odious pro-Maidan activist, wrote on his Telegram channel:

“In the meantime, it is confirmed that the headquarters of Yuliya Tymoshenko and Vladimir Zelensky are negotiating to unite efforts in the second round of presidential elections.

According to one narrative, the leader of ‘Batkivshchyna’ is ready to support Vladimir Zelensky in exchange for signing a memorandum on the creation of a parliamentary coalition, whose main task will be to change the legislation and introduce a two-round system of parliamentary elections.

No, this is not a typo. It is parliamentary elections. In this model, elections are held exclusively on a proportional basis, in two rounds. The party that wins, gets 51% of the seats in parliament, forms the majority and, accordingly, the composition of the Cabinet of Ministers.

If such an agreement is reached, in fact this will mean that Vladimir Zelensky will announce Yuliya Tymoshenko as his Prime Minister. We do not know at what stage the negotiations are and whether the leader of the presidential race will agree to such support, but it is already obvious that such an alliance (1) will be a big problem for Petro Poroshenko and (2) will strongly undermine the image of the ‘non-system candidate’ and ‘leader of new forces’ Vladimir Zelensky”.

18:49 In Kharkov a group of men with knives walk around – they are registered on stations as observers at 68-D Pobedy Street in Kiev. They claim to represent a public organisation, and the only documents they have on them is a certificate of the “ATO”. They whispered with members of the commission, who refused to call the police.

17:15 In Volyn the coordinator of Poroshenko’s voter bribery scheme was found – she was waiting for his voters near the station.

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17:05 The CEC, which is in Poroshenko’s pocket, stated that there have been no systematic violations during the election. There are isolated cases of photographing the ballots and bringing citizens to polling stations, “but in general the election is being held in a standard regime”.

16:58 In the village of Puznyakovtsy near Mukachevo a strange thing was going on: members of the election commission were drunk and issued ballot papers without checking passports, claiming that they already knew all the voters by sight. Thus, almost the entire village voted without a passport.

16:56 In the Chernigov region it was noticed how people who are on duty near stations have lists of promoters in their hands (shadow canvassing).

16:19 In the Dneprovsky district of Kiev, at station No. 800316, two observers from Poroshenko’s HQ were detained. The police were called after suspicions that both organised a controlled vote – they found lists of apartments and instructions for promoters.

15:55 The mayor of Zhytomyr Sergey Sukhomlin and head of the Zhytomyr Regional State Administration Igor Gundich followed in the footsteps of presidential candidate Oleg Lyashko and also took photos of ballot papers at the ballot boxes on March 31st, thereby breaking the law (could face up to 3 years in jail).

15:48 Political analyst Oleg Voloshin believes that about 15% of Ukrainians are ready to vote for the continuation of the war.

We should not deceive ourselves by attributing all the troubles of the past years only to a specific politician or group of politicians. The main problem is in these 15-17% of our fellow citizens who, for various reasons, advocate war and the coercion of the ‘wrong’ Ukrainians to something. They still vote for it today. And in this sense, millions of adequate Ukrainians still have time to stop the war before 8:00pm

15:42 As of 15:00, the turnout was 45.22%, which is higher than it was in 2014 at the same time.

The highest voter turnout in the Dnipropetrovsk region – 48.09%, the lowest – in Ivano-Frankivsk, 31.81%.

14:36The police has already opened 8 criminal cases and recorded more than 500 violations. They are concentrated mainly in the South-East – where the current president has the least support. 

14:09 Tymoshenko’s HQ summed up the first four hours of voting. They say that the presence of armed SBU employees on the streets is a factor of voter intimidation.

13:51 A photo published by the blogger Sergey Naumovich shows that there are a lot of youth in sporty clothes, similar to titushki, outside the CEC building. And on the big screen they are broadcasting the “Pryamoy” TV channel, which is connected to Petro Poroshenko.

13:43 In Madrid an employee of the Ukrainian embassy did not allow an activist from “Headquarters to Counter Election Fraud in Ukraine Abroad” to vote. He pushed the woman away from the door and tried to take away her mobile phone.

13:15 The police have opened four criminal cases concerning the election. Most of the violations are related to illegal campaigning and bribing voters.

12:34 In the Donetsk region one of the members of the election commission was beaten up. This was done by his colleagues for attempting to video record proceedings, according to the police of Velikaya Novoselka.

12:20 Petro Poroshenko came to vote in the Kiev House of Officers. He held a short briefing, during which he hypocritically mocked opposition candidates for conducting a “dirty campaign”. And then he told foreign journalists in English that this election was a farewell to the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire.

While Poroshenko voted an incident occurred. He gave his ballot to his grandson, but he dropped it and stepped on it.

Here is a video version of the incident:

12:12 The Committee of Voters of Ukraine believes that Lyashko committed a criminal offence by showing his ballot. He has thus violated the secrecy of voting.

11:56 In the city of Borzna in the Chernigov region an incendiary bottle was thrown at the voting station.

11:26 “One of the most frequent situations at the moment is the presence of ‘dead souls’ in the lists. Not all representatives of the commissions know how to act in such a situation. There are also cases when people do not find themselves in the lists, although they have been registered at the station for a long time. Many commissions did not deliver invitations before the elections,” noted the observers of “Uspishna Varta”.

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11:14 One voter reported to the “Strana” news agency: “I arrived at the station around an hour after it had opened. There was already a pile of ballot papers with a tick for Poroshenko”.

11:08 It was reported by the police that they have received 151 reports of irregularities related to the electoral process. Most of all – from the Donetsk region, where there is large scale voter bribery by Poroshenko. Here are the main types of violations:

  • Illegal campaigning – 13 (Kiev – 8, Vinnytsia, Zaporozhye, Kiev, Sumy, and Kharkov regions – 1 each);
  • Voter bribery – 6 (Transcarpathian region – 2, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Kirovograd, and Zaporozhye regions – 1 each);
  • Damaged ballot papers – 7 (Kherson region – 2, Zaporozhye, Poltava, Cherkassy, and Zhytomyr regions and Kiev – 1 each);
  • Photographing ballot papers – 12 (Donetsk, Zaporozhye, Kirovograd, and Kharkov regions – 2, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Lugansk and Kiev – 1);
  • Cable theft – 1 (Kirovograd region);
  • Attempting to take away the ballot paper from the polling station – 5 (Kiev – 2, Zhytomyr, Lugansk, and Chernigov regions – 1 each).

In one instance, criminal proceedings were initiated under Part 2 of Article 158-2 (Falsification of election documents) in the Kherson region.

10:53 The speaker of the parliament – an odious Banderist – voted in Kiev. “I voted for Ukraine. Each ballot paper is a bullet to the aggressor,” said Andrey Parubiy in his usual tedious manner.

10:49 A photo emerged showing a strange and old polling station in the frontline settlement of Popasnaya in the Lugansk region. Ballot boxes stand on floorboards that look rather flimsy. There is a risk that it can collapse if the voter choose the wrong candidate…

10:41 In Izmail, Odessa region, at station No. 511003 it was announced that it would open only at noon – i.e., four hours late.

Locals explain this by referring to “technical difficulties”. Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry said the numbers of the seals at this station do not correspond to the numbers of the site.

10:27 Tymoshenko voted.

10:20 A photo surfaced showing the British Ambassador to Ukraine with a ballot paper in her hands. There is confusion about how it fell into her hands: after all, this is a strict accountability document, and the ambassador is neither a voter nor a member of the CEC.

10:02 In Zaporozhye a voter who was photographing his ballot was detained. The offense was noticed by the members of the commission and called the police.

9:39 The “Uspishna Varta” human rights group published the first list of violations it has noticed.

“Some commissions were not able to open on time, and continued to fill the ballot boxes after the arrival of the first observers. Observers are confused about which public organisation they represent. In some polling stations, 4 observers are from Poroshenko’s quota”

PEC 216/800914, district 216, Kiev. There is a quorum. Ballots arrived at 7:15 with two policemen. 4 observers from the ‘Bloc of Petro Poroshenko’ (from various public organisations, including UDAR). 2 from Tymoshenko. A few minutes after the start of voting, there was the first incident involving a person voting for Yury Tymoshenko, instead of the candidate Yuliya Tymoshenko. A statement was submitted in order to receive a clean ballot paper.

At DEC No. 219 in Kiev, there were ‘strange’ observers who are registered from organisations, but at the same time are confused and say they are from either Tymoshenko or Poroshenko.

Zaporozhye, PEC 231077. The ballot boxes were not sealed in time when voters began to enter. There was nowhere to put the ballots, they wanted to put them only on a windowsill next to personal belongings, but responded to a remark.

At PEC 800816, Kiev, district 218, voters also began to enter even while the ballot box was being sealed.

DEC 62, site 181343, Zhytomyr. There were no numbers on the checklists, which were thrown into the ballot box. In this region a conflict occurred between an observer from the team ‘Ze’ and the chairperson of the station (over where the observer can and cannot stand), members of DEC 62 arrived and clarified the situation.

Vinnytsia, district 11, precinct 051492. A voter is outraged that a grandmother who died in 2005 is on the list of voters. An observer called the police.”

9:25 Kiev Mayor and ringleader of Maidan Vitaly Klitschko came to the elections on a bicycle, just like Zelensky.

9:08 Facebook activist Yury Andreev posted a photo showing how wounded Ukrainian military personnel vote in hospital.

9:05  In a school in Nikolaev a huge portrait of a thin Poroshenko was set up in a polling station.

8:00Polling stations officially opened.

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