Election commission head claims pressure from Zelensky’s office before upcoming elections
Unidentified persons close to the President’s Office “recommended” Ukraine’s Central Election Commission head Oleh Didenko and his subordinates to resign and hinted at possible “consequences” if it wouldn’t happen, Didenko told journalists on Aug. 15.
“Maybe I’m wrong and missing something. But if there are attempts to initiate some groundless criminal proceedings or any other forms of prosecution or information campaigns in the nearest future, everything will be crystal clear,” Didenko told the Ukrainska Pravda news website.
Appointed by the parliament, the Central Election Commission is the 17-member body in charge of organizing elections. The upcoming local elections are scheduled for Oct. 25.
A day before, on Aug. 14, media outlet Dzerkalo Tyzhnya (Mirror Weekly), referring to its sources, reported that head of the President’s Office Andriy Yermak rendered pressure upon Didenko and four other Central Election Commission members to force them to resign, allegedly due to their loyalty to Andriy Bohdan, ex-chief of the presidential office.
The story said that Didenko had refused to do so, saying there was no legal ground for his dismissal.
The President’s Office offered a furious reaction to the report, decrying the newspaper and accusing it of fabricating the scandal.
In the interview, Didenko said he was not afraid of being fired, but decided to go public because there should be trust in the Central Election Commission as this agency’s credibility defines the trust in elections.
“A groundless dismissal of the whole commission or of its certain members, especially in the proximity of (local) elections — even when it’s voluntary resignation — is a serious threat to the agency’s independence, to elections, to our nation’s image, to the reputation of our authorities,” he said. “I hope everyone understands this.”