In Volynska oblast, journalists not allowed to leave electoral district
In the village of Zaborol (Volynska oblast), at the elections of the head and councilmembers of Zaborol consolidated territorial community, members of the district electoral commission would not let the journalists of the newspaper “Tochka Opory” Kateryna Sharpata and “Volynske Ahentstvo Rozsliduvan” Yulia Yutovets out of the electoral district. This was reported to the IMI representative in Volynska oblast.
The incident took place on April 30 late in the night.
As Kateryna Sharpata said, the members of the district electoral commission at the final session unanimously approved the decision not to let anybody in or out of the district premises before the vote counting is done.
“Because of this, we were unable to attend the session of the Territorial electoral commission and see the process of submitting the documents from other district electoral commissions. We see this as obstruction to our journalist activities”, Kateryna Sharpata pointed out. That very night, Yulia Yutovets called the police and informed about obstruction to journalist activities. Also she reported a crime under Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
According to Yutovets, at 10 p.m. the journalists were told nobody would be allowed to leave the premises. They turned to the police officer on duty at the district and asked to unlock the door and let them leave, he said that only the head of the electoral commission had the authority to open the door and went to her to ask to open the door, but she refused. The journalists called the police station but were told they had no spare teams to send. Eventually, at 3:30 in the morning, the journalists left.
At the district premises, the editor of the media outlet “Konkurent” Andriy Luchyk was also present as an observer from one of the candidates for the head of the territorial community. According to him, the members of Zaborol district electoral commission did not adhere to the procedure of vote counting as outlined in Article 79 of the law of Ukraine “On Local Elections”. After they were told about this, the commission members and the candidates for the council began to express their indignation over observers and journalists meddling in the commission’s work. So, according to Luchyk, when the journalists asked to open the district doors to leave, the commission members and candidates decided not to let them go until the vote counting was done as a kind of retaliation for the journalists’ earlier remarks.
For the context, on 30 April in 19 oblasts of Ukraine elections of head of 47 consolidated territorial communities were held.