Ukraine election marks "step backwards", says OSCE

KIEV Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:38am EDT

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliamentary election on Sunday was marred by the ruling Party of the Regions using state resources and facilities for campaigning and by a lack of transparency over how parties were financed, an international monitoring team said on Monday.

The election, in which President Viktor Yanukovich's Regions seems likely to have secured a majority, was also characterized by media coverage weighted in favor of the ruling party, a mission of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said.

"The 28 October parliamentary elections were characterized by the lack of a level playing field caused primarily by the abuse of administrative resources, lack of transparency of campaign and party financing and lack of balanced media coverage," the OSCE mission said in a report.

"Certain aspects of the pre-election period constituted a step backwards compared with recent national elections," it said, an apparent reference to Yanukovich's election in February 2010 which was judged fair by the West.

The OSCE statement said the inability of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to run as a candidate had also "negatively affected" the election process.

(Writing By Richard Balmforth)

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