In December of last year on the eve of a runoff in five districts where the 2012 parliamentary elections has been declared null and void due to irregularities, I wrote an article focusing, among other things, on the 223rd electoral district, which encompasses the Shevchenko region of Kiev.
That runoff was hotly contested by 70 candidates, in particular between a local quite notorious bureaucrat and region leader named Victor Petrovych Pylypyshyn, who was not supported purportedly by any political party, and a candidate from the “Svoboda” party named Yuriy Volodymyrovych Levchenko.
Levchenko was and is a prominent political analyst of his party. Because the “Maidan” was at its peak and its participants had suffered severely at the hands of Yanukovich's “Berkut” only two weeks earlier, the “Svoboda” people were certain of victory to the point of being smug.
The problem, however, aside from the total number of candidates and “Svoboda’s” overconfidence, was that two other Levchenkos, albeit with different first names and patronymics, ran in the same election. An exit poll made public at poll closing time suggested that Levchenko had prevailed by five points. Nevertheless, Victor Petrovych Pylypyshyn won in the actual vote tabulation as announced by the election commission subsequently.
Well, there appears to be more of the same in the upcoming October 26 election in the 223rd district. This time the number of candidates has been halved to 33 and the incumbent Victor Petrovych Pylypyshyn is running for reelection. Yuriy Volodymyrovych Levchenko from “Svoboda” is running as well. Eerily similarly, two other Levchenkos are running as independents, one named Andrij Ilarionovych and the other named Yuriy Volodymyrovych Levchenko, exactly like the “Svoboda” candidate. The one with the identical name is unemployed, but apparently he did come up with the equivalent of a little more than $1,000 (12,180.00 hr) in order to be registered as required under the election law. The opportunity for voter confusion is obvious. This can only help Mr. Pylypyshyn.
However, the bizarre is not limited to electoral district 223. There are some 6,500 candidates running Ukraine-wide, 3,000 on 29 party lists and another 3,500 running in 213 single mandate districts. Six candidates are named Darth Vader, distinguished by five different patronymics: Andriyovych, Vasylovych, Viktorovych, Vitaliyovych, Volodymyrovych. Two have the patronymic Volodymyrovich.
Aside from the Internet party list, which one heads, the others are running in the 217 and 218 election district, both in Kiev. As to the two with the same patronymic, one is listed as being nine years older than the other. This display of the Ukrainian sense of humor is complicated by the fact that the Central Elections Commission has registered the six Darth Vaders as candidates and they are listed as such on the CEC Web site. There is also a candidate named Yoda. One can only assume that the necessary documentation was submitted and examined by the CEC.
I never met the aforesaid Viktor Petrovych Pylypyshyn. But I did have an encounter with his people. I have an apartment in the Shevchenko region, which Pylypyshyn headed until his election to parliament last year. I had contracted some renovations which involved moving a partition wall a few inches. My contractor neglected to procure a permit. The municipal authorities inspected and alerted me to this requirement. I applied to the Shevchenko region and was told that there was no problem, but I should pay them a few thousand dollars.
There was no ambiguity as to where the money would go. I countered by suggesting that I pay a fine into the municipal treasury, since I do not pay bribes. The region people insisted on the bribe. I refused. The matter is still pending as it has been over the last eight years.
I have spent more than the requested bribe amount on attorneys. I am still prepared to pay a fine. Pylypyshyn is no longer in charge in the region, yet nothing has changed. A Kiev municipal election took place in May of this year. Vitaly Klychko ostensibly runs Kiev now. My attorneys referred this matter to the Kiev municipal authorities. The response was that this problem would go away if I gave them some money. They even suggested the amount similar to what the region people did previously.
The more things change in Ukraine, the more they remain the same. To use another cliche, you really cannot make this up. God, I hope this next election makes a difference!
Although, whether Pylypyshyn or Levchenko or Vader or Yoda is elected, what's going to change? People died on the “Maidan.” People are dying in the war with Russia. Ukraine has staged a revolution of dignity and continues to wage a heroic war against savage Russian mercenaries. If only Ukraine made an attempt to clean up its corrupt bureaucracy!
By Askold S. Lozynskyj
October 12, 2014