KIEV — Nearly a week after Ukraine’s parliamentary election, officials on Friday were still counting votes in eight key districts across the country, in what the opposition says was a clear example of widespread vote-rigging by the ruling party.
The disorderly count has touched off Ukraine’s penchant for violent political passions. As the count dragged on at one election commission in the capital, fistfights broke out, tear gas was fired, and an election official broke down in sobs. At another election commission in Kiev, police pushed the opposition candidate when he tried to approach a table where ballots were located and he broke a rib and finger when he fell.
Opposition leaders are threatening to take to the streets if the alleged vote-rigging is not stopped — a potentially serious move in a country where massive demonstrations in 2004 forced the rerun of a fraud-ridden presidential election. Western observers have denounced Sunday’s election as unfair. They said the imprisonment of President Viktor Yanukovych’s arch-foe, Yulia Tymoshenko, and nontransparent vote tallying were a step back from democracy.
With counting completed for most of Parliament’s 450 seats, Yanukovych’s party and its allies appeared sure to have enough seats for a majority.