Three months remain until the parliamentary elections in Ukraine. As usual, there are heated discussions whether the elections will be fair and transparent. That's why the authorities have decided to involve special equipment to assist the observers: it is planned to install webcams in all voting stations of the country by October 28 so that everyone can follow the process. 

On July 4, the parliament of Ukraine adopted changes to the state budget of 2012 regarding the allocation of means for installation of video monitoring system in all voting stations.

Russia, by the way, had a similar experience, when the presidential election could be followed in real time through a special website, which broadcast the voting process directly from the voting stations.
It is still not clear when the installation process starts in Ukraine, as the Central Election Commission, which is supposed to be the ordering customer, has not officially decided on the matter.

ForUm has decided to ask experts and politicians whether the authorities will manage to install the equipment in time and whether we actually need this interactive monitoring.

Volodymyr Zabarski, an MP (Party of Regions), the author of the draft bill "On provision of fair, transparent and democratic elections":

- I believe the surveillance will be installed in time. The name of the law is "On provision of fair, transparent and democratic elections". Hence, every person or a politician, especially politician, who criticizes the installation of video cameras, stands against the fairness and transparency of the elections, is planning to cheat on the system and is afraid of consequences.

The video footage of the process will be preserved for one year and can be turned over to CEC or other relevant bodies.

Innokentiy Adiasov, political scientists, Moscow, Russia:

- The idea to use webcams is taken from Russia. Vladimir Putin invented it on the eve of the second tour of the presidential race. It was proposed to install two cameras in each of 90 thousand voting stations: one camera was following the main hall of a voting station, and the other was aimed at the ballot box. The set also included a laptop. Through a special website everyone could follow the process. The state budget of Russia allocated 13 billion rubles: 9 billion for the improvement of the net infrastructure and 4 billion for equipment.

However, the success of the project was doubtful. First of all, in the process of its realization several tens of budget millions were lost. Secondly, eyewitnesses noted that the signal quality was so bad that it was impossible to distinguish even how many people were voting at a moment. Thirdly, the video cameras in Russia were famous not for being effective, but for being stolen, together with laptops. I believe Ukraine faces the same risks.

Oleksandr Chornovolenko, an MP (NU-NS faction):

- Any additional control is good. If cameras installed near the ballot boxes, the elections have more chances to be fair. We live in the century of information, and every political event, including elections, must be transparent for citizens. However, the question is whether they have time to prepare all the equipment.

Lilia Shevtsova, leading specialist of the Carnegie international fund, Moscow, Russia:

- Webcams, as well as other gadgets, did not impede the falsification last year.

First of all, the cameras were installed in such a way that it was not always possible to control the very moment of stuffing the ballot box.

Secondly, the webcams could not impede the carousel voting, when a group of fellows was going from one voting station to another to vote for several times each.

Thirdly, the webcams did not record the vote counting process. In my opinion, this whole idea is a waste of time and money. It is merely a poor simulation of fair elections.

However, the true transparency of elections can be provided by sufficient number of observers, by proper control at all stages of the election process and by fair competitiveness of the very candidates.

Mykhailo Chechetov, an MP, deputy head of the Party of Regions faction:

- This election process will be held at the hi-tech level. The video surveillance will enable us to escape speculations and will secure fairness and transparency of the elections. We need to do this to preserve the good image of the country and to avoid any criticism.

We will hold elections at the maximum transparent level. The shooting will be continuous, so that everyone can observe the process at any moment. In some regions, there is a practice, when one family member votes for the whole family, while others are somewhere in Europe earning money. With the video surveillance this system will no longer work. If someone votes for several people, he will face immediate imprisonment.

Ihor Popov, president of the analytical center "Open politics":

- There is enough time and personnel to equip all voting stations. I think it will be done in time. The question is whether we need it. The Russian experience can answer this question.

Anyway, "the dark forces" are planning their scenarios for the upcoming elections. Like in Russia, there will be a blurry amateur video when some people throwing something in some boxes. At the same time, there will be official video information, according to which nothing of the kind has ever happened. Hence, all parties will break even.

Taras Berezovets, a political strategist, the director of "Berta Communications" company:

- If in Russia they managed to purchase and install the equipment between the first and second tour of the presidential race, I believe we will definitely do it in time within three remaining months.

In order to prevent any opposition's criticism and accusations of fund misuse we must hold a tender. If this draft bill is realized in proper manner, the opposition will have no grounds to claim falsification.

The online recording will register any possible hooliganism, like pouring chemicals in ballot boxes, for example.  The video surveillance is a good physiological block for people, who have plans to do something of the kind.


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