How They Voted in Kyiv: Heat, Lines and Vyshyvankas

2014/05/26 • News

Temur Kiguradze, Russian BBC

Voters in Kyiv once more had to figure out long voting ballots

Champagne bottles have been opened in Petro Poroshenko’s headquarters – without awaiting official results of the Central Electoral Committee of Ukraine, the businessman stated that the country has elected President. 

In order to greet the possible winner of the presidential elections, even before the closure of voting points, big businessmen and representatives of the diplomatic corps have gathered in his headquarters.

Mister Poroshenko accepted the congratulations and was already making statements as the first person in the country – he talked about the possibility of dialogue with Russia, the necessity of creating a new system of regional security and promised to conduct his first visit as head of state to Dobas.

The number of voters that came to the points, “was simply over the limit,” stated Petro Poroshenko, noting that neither the heat nor the hailstorm in the Ukrainian capital prevented the people to come to the polls. “The hailstorm is overall a good sign,” noted the presidential candidate.

The Heated Votes

It’s true – the lines at the voting points in Kyiv were enormous, and people started gathering even before the opening of the points, already at 7:45.

A celebratory atmosphere on election day reigned only in the headquarters of Petro Poroshenko. The others were empty and did not work for long.

“I worked in the (electoral) committee at the last, the ones before, and even the ones before, elections, but there have never been so many people here,” said Nataliya Trofimova to the Russian BBC service, deputy head of electoral voting point number 8696 located in one of the residential neighbourhoods of Kyiv.

According to Nataliya Trofimova, there have been no incidents or warnings at her point, aside from the constant complaints about the hour-long lines.

“It is simply impossible, I have been standing for two hours now, first it was hot, now rain is fathering, but what to do? Not go home?” says pensioner Svitlana Ponomarenko who came to vote at this point.

A similar scene could be observed in the city centre – at one of the points in the centre of Kyiv in Pechersk Raion, it was so hot, that two voters got sick. According to the head of the committee of this point, they were two pregnant women, who were quickly given treatment.

In line at this point, an old man is sweating profusely and looking at the ballot through a magnifying glass. Volodymyr Ivanovich is 74 years old. He says that he has not missed any elections. “Only now my vision is betraying me – I cannot make sense of these sheets.”

The voting ballots are reminiscent of sheets – this time 21 candidates fought for the post of head of state: in order to place such a document into the box, one has to fold it in three or even four. There is not only one ballot – at the same time, the citizens are electing the city mayor and members of the Kyiv City Council.

74-year-old Volodymyr Ivanovich is carefully studying the ballot through a magnifying glass.

“I am worried by this amount of surnames, names, and parties. To be frank, if I am more or less settled on the President, I will decide in the booth whom to mark in the other papers,” says student Dmytro, waiting for his turn to the booth.

Vyshyvankas For the Mood

Dmytro, like many, is wearing a white vyshyvanka. The Kyiv dwellers and citizens of other Ukrainian cities started wearing vyshyvankas without agreeing on it, and they could be seen not only on the voters, but the members of the committees, observers and even members of the headquarters of the parties of various candidates.

Dmytro explains such heightened interest to traditional Ukrainian dress with the uprise of patriotism in this difficult time for the country. “The people understand that now is the most important period in the history of the country and are ready to share the responsibility for it,” he says.

The voters, tortured by waiting, heat, and variety of choice, have to face another challenge upon exiting the voting points – exit-polls. According to the representatives of the organisations which are holding the surveys regarding the adherences of the voters, at these elections the people are more frequently refusing to name their candidate.

“The voting is secret, right? So, let it remain secret,” says yet another voter, waving away the girl, who is dying of heat, and heads for the tent with kvas. Such tents, set up swiftly by savvy Kyivans, could be seen at the exits of many voting points in the city.

It was unusually quiet and cool at the point in the building of the Institute of Endocrinology far from the centre of the capital. The people which underwent treatment in the institute hospital voted here. There are slightly more than three hundred of them here. Despite the half-empty point, everything which is happening is being supervised by the local observers.

There have never been such lines at voting points in Kyiv. Despite the heat, the people stood in line for several hours to vote.

The journalist’s certificate and accreditation from the CEC had to be presented three times here, however every single observer saw that everything was all right with the accreditation. “We are being vigilant,” proudly stated one of the observers, a middle-aged woman in a vyshyvanka.

Accountant Nataliya was undergoing treatment in the insitute when registration lists were being formed there. That she had to go to the outskirts of the city to vote, she found out at her voting point in the city centre.

“I came to the point, and Poroshenko was voting there. And to give my vote for him, I was forced to go here. Well, let it be, the people in February died for freedom on Maidan, so driving for an hour in the rain is not heroical,” she said.

Practically all the main candidates voted in Kyiv, many of them demonstratively, equal to all, stood in long lines in the heat.

These elections are unlike any others in the history of independent Ukraine, thinks Kyivan Oleg. Now just because so many people have come, but also because they are happening in the period, when civil activity of the population is extraordinarily high.

“Almost all previous elections could have not been held – it was clear who and how won there. This time the people will not allow the results to be fabricated, there will be another Maidan in the country. And everyone understands this,” says Oleg.

Source: BBC

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina

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