Ukraine’s Democratic Progress

The first results of yesterday’s Presidential election clearly confirm the pro-European direction of Ukraine, with all three of the leading candidates supporting a pro-EU platform. This was the main conclusion of a panel of experts who analysed the results at a conference yesterday in the Brussels Press Club.

The final result of the election will only be known by 10th April when all of the overseas votes have been counted, but at this stage it is clear from the early vote count that there will be a run-off election on 21st April between the two leading candidates, Volodymyr Zelensky who has more than 30% of the votes and Petro Poroshenko with just half of that number at around 16%.

“This is a good result for Ukraine’s future relations with the EU. It is particularly welcome that the elections were broadly free, fair and democratic,” said Andriy Domanskyy a senior Ukrainian lawyer speaking at the conference.

“Whoever wins the run-off vote to become President later this month, there remain three very important priorities to help Ukraine on its chosen pro-European path,” he went on to say.


“Firstly, freedom of speech and the protection of journalists. According to Amnesty International: “2018 was marked by a sharp surge of violent attacks against a range of individuals and groups, often in the name of patriotism and ‘traditional values’”. Many of these cases involve investigative journalists who reveal corruption scandals. The next government of Ukraine should take serious steps to improve the situation. By this I mean to put a stop to harassment, to protect threatened journalists and to release those who who have been unjustly imprisoned, such as Kirill Vishinsky the editor of Ria Novosti in Ukraine.”

“The second area that the new government should pay attention to is the protection of the human rights of practising lawyers and human rights activists defending these individuals, so that they can go about their professional duties free of harassment.”

“The third priority for the new government is anti-corruption. We see from the current Presidential race that Ukraine is undoubtedly making progress in developing democracy. In neighbouring Slovakia the electorate chose last weekend a new President who campaigned on an anti-corruption ticket, fighting for justice and truth. There are some lessons here for Ukraine, that we can learn from our neighbour. People are tired of the old political establishment that is maintained by privilege and favour. They want to make a break with the past, to put an end to corruption and to have a fair, decent and principled government that does not tolerate fraud and deceit.”