There was a 10-day period between the recent presidential elections held in Ukraine and Syria. The two states face unrest while the government forces are fighting insurgents. In the both cases the United States and Europe take an unambiguous stance throwing their support behind one of the belligerents. What strikes an eye is that they apply absolutely contrasting approaches depending on each case.
The civil war in Syria was inspired by experts on “color revolutions”. Sparked in 2011 it entailed constitutional reforms implemented by Bashar Assad. The elections became competitive and the President is limited to being elected to a total of 2seven- year terms. A new election law was approved by lawmakers one month before the election.
The legal Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych was overthrown as a result of coup. Just a few hours before the event the President had signed an agreement on early presidential election to come into force after the constitution has been amended. The new rulers who grabbed power never introduced any constitutional changes and used force to make the parliament approve the preterm election. The corresponding amendments were introduced afterwards making the results legal no matter if the turnout was high or low. The result would count even if the vote was held at just one polling station.
The law in the both countries forbids nomination of people who have not lived in the country during the last ten years. Vitaly Klitschko, the former world boxing champion, is a very popular politician but the rules made him fall out of the race. A number of Syrian politicians could not become candidates for the same reason. In case of Ukraine the law has not drawn any criticism from the European Union and the United States. At the same time they called the Syrian vote a “farce”.
There was no exacerbation of tensions during the pre-election campaign in Syria except some cases of shootings and terrorist acts committed by the so called opposition forces supported by the West. In Ukraine not a single presidential hopeful could fully concentrate on the race as campaigning became a risky endeavor with those coming from the east intimidated in the west and vice versa. Oleg Tsarev and Petro Symonenko, the leader of Communist Party, had to withdraw from election campaign because of constant threats.
The Syrian authorities did their best to avoid any violence on the Election Day and the day before. The combat actions were limited to shots fired in Jdeida Yabus, a populated area near the Jordanian border, and mortar shelling in the suburbs of Aleppo and Damascus. It did not prevent people from casting their ballots.
In Ukraine an election commission was fired upon in the town of Krasnoarmeisk in the east. The day before the election combat actions took place in Slavyansk. No voting took place in many populated areas in the eastern part of the country as shootings or the presence of pro-government paramilitary forces scared the voters away.
In Syria only one province out of 14 was excluded from the election as it was controlled by rebels. But millions refugees could take part in the vote upon presenting identification papers with aircraft chartered to get the ballots to electoral commissions. In Ukraine the city of Sebastopol and the Republic of Crimea did not vote as they have changed their status to become parts of Russia. Itleft25 regionstotakepartintheelection. The Donetsk and Lugansk regions together accounted for 15% of Ukrainian voters. The attendance was 15% and 38% respectively. Odessa and Kharkov are two large Ukrainian cities with 11% of population. The turnout was less than 50%. It would have made the election null and void according the constitution that had been if force before.
In Syria the attendance was 73, 42%, the local and international observers, including those who came from the United States, Canada, Ireland, Pakistan, Malaysia and Bahrain were unanimous in their assessment that the election went smoothly according to universally recognized democratic norms. According to official data, the turnout was 60, 29%.
At midday on May 25, the pro-government LigaBusinessInform website reported 416 gross violations. There were 10 cases when someone tried to influence the election officials, 122 attempts to obstruct the election campaign, 16 cases of offering bribes to make voters cast ballots for the leading candidate, 183 violations of rules regulating pre-election agitation, 8 cases of exerting pressure on media, 3 manipulations with ballots, and 3 attempts to damage a ballot-box. According to the press-center of Batkivshchyna Party led by Yulia Timoshenko, in the Vinnitsa region the number of ballots frequently exceeded many times the number of voters registered at this or that polling station. Many pictures and videos shot by Ukrainian TV operators show that the transparent ballot-boxes were filled with ballots before the vote started. The observers and election commission members refused to register the violations.
No run-off election was needed in the both countries. In Syria Bashar Assad held a sweeping 88, 7% victory (65% of the overall number of country’s voters). The United States wants him overthrown. The US and EU-supported Petro Poroshenko received 54, 7% among those who actually went to vote or 33% of the total number of Ukrainian voters.
No matter the Kiev regime continues to deliver massive strikes against civilians in Donbass using artillery and aviation, the results of Ukrainian election are recognized with no strings attached by the United States and Europe. Theysaytheelectionfullymetthedemocraticstandards. Talking about the expression of Syrian people’s will, U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said the election was a “disgrace” and “staged”, adding that Assad has denied people the right to vote. According to her, the Syrian leadership continues mass extermination of population. One of the reasons that made recognition impossible was the very result of the vote – over 50% in the first round. The G7 Leaders' Communiqué says, “We denounce the 3 June sham presidential election: there is no future for Assad in Syria. We again endorse the Geneva Communiqué, which calls for a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers and agreed by mutual consent, based on a vision for a united, inclusive and democratic Syria. We strongly condemn the violations of international humanitarian law and human rights and indiscriminate artillery shelling and aerial bombardment by the Syrian regime”.
Is it not a bright example of hypocrisy and double standards on the part of the United States and Europe? Can anything else be more convincing than that?