700 election monitors to watch Ukraine’s election

Nearly 700 OSCE observers will monitor Ukraine's key parliamentary vote on October 26, the pan-European security body said on Friday, as it opened an election observer office in Kiev, according to a report from Agence France-Presse.

700 election monitors to watch Ukraine's election
Monitors from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine during a briefing. Photo: OSCE/Evgeniy Maloletka

The election will give Ukraine's voters the first chance to pass judgement on Western-oriented President Petro Poroshenko's attempts to pull the former Soviet republic out of its worst crisis since independence in 1991 and away from historical master Moscow.

"The mission will assess the entire election process for compliance with OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections, as well as with national legislation," the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said.

"Observers will monitor the legislative framework and its implementation, the work of the election administration and relevant government bodies, campaign activities, media coverage and the resolution of election disputes," the Vienna-based body said.

Led by Tana de Zulueta of Italy, the team consists of 16 experts based in Kiev and 80 long-term observers deployed across Ukraine. Another 600 short-term observers will monitor election day proceedings.

The vote will give the 450-seat parliament additional powers such as nominating prime ministers without prior consultation with the president, making its cooperation essential for the former chocolate tycoon.

A new People's Front created by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the president's eponymous own party are expected to form the bedrock of the current leadership's parliamentary support.

But the pro-Russian Regions Party that ruled Ukraine under former president Viktor Yanukovych — whose ouster in February sparked the current crisis — has said it will boycott the vote.

The OSCE has emerged as a key player in Ukraine, sending observers to the restive east of the country and taking part in peace talks in Minsk two weeks ago that resulted in a so-far shaky truce.

The pan-European security body, whose 57 members include Russia, Ukraine and the United States, aims to double the number of observers in the east to 500 in the next 10 weeks and also plans to deploy drones.

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US financier Soros ‘ready to invest in Ukraine’

US financier George Soros has said he is ready to invest $1 billion in Ukraine if the West promises to help the embattled country.

US financier Soros 'ready to invest in Ukraine'

"Ukraine is defending the EU from Russian aggression", and helping its development will weaken Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Hungarian-born philanthropist said in an interview published in German by Austrian newspaper Der Standard on Monday. 

He said Ukraine needed €50 billion to get itself back on its feet, and said he was prepared to pump $1 billion (€922 million) into agriculture and infrastructural projects.

Ukraine is at the edge of bankruptcy hit by the triple whammy of the war in its industrial east, a deep economic recession and the record devaluation of its currency. Its public debt is likely to reach 94 percent of its GDP in 2015.

Soros said his investments "should make a profit", which would go to his foundation rather than him personally.

"The West can help Ukraine by making it more attractive to investors by giving them insurance against political risk," he said.

"That could take the form of financing very close to the European interest rates, which are very close to zero."

Ukrainian investment analysts ICU only predict a return to growth in 2017, and a sharp drop in GDP of 7.6 percent this year.

The new Vienna-based Agency for the Modernization of Ukraine (AMU), which is headed by Austria’s former finance minister Michael Spindelegger, has been criticised by Ukrainian politicians as a PR ploy which is designed to restore the reputation of Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash