Willy Fautré, director of the Brussels-based NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers, told this website that election observers had uncovered numerous “irregularities” at voting booths and elsewhere.
He said, “The EU should examine the reports of a wide range of election observation bodies and decide if it will recognise the democratic character of the election. If the election is rigged, the EU should not recognise its results.”
Fautré himself was in Ukraine as an observer and, speaking at a news briefing in Brussels on the outcome of the poll, he said he had found several cases of alleged violations of the electoral process.
He said, “The picture is not as rosy as some would say and there were numerous violations.”
These, he said, included incidents involving the use of force against campaigners and campaigning in “forbidden places”.
He said violations were uncovered at polling stations and also during the campaign itself.
These include the alleged illegal financing of a political party, lack of transparency and misuse of administrative resources.
Fautré said, “Before the second round of voting, the Ukraine Election Commission should make public their reports about violations of the election legislation and prosecute anyone involved.”
The Ukraine interior ministry says hundreds of electoral violations have been reported, but foreign observers say the vote appeared to be mainly smooth.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a TV comedian with no political experience, won the most votes in the first round of Ukraine’s presidential elections, early results indicate.
With half of the ballots counted, Zelenskiy – who plays the president on TV – got about 30 percent, with current leader Petro Poroshenko on 16 percent.
The two – who have expressed largely pro-EU opinions – are set to take part in a run-off election next month.
Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko appears to have been eliminated.
A total of 39 candidates were on the ballot paper. With none receiving more than 50 percent, the top two will go forward to the run-off on 21 April.
The Ukrainian president has significant powers over security, defence and foreign policy, in a system described as semi-presidential.