2014-EO-Ukraine-Harstedt-Okhendovskyi-DanylevskyiKent Harstedt, the OSCE Special Co-ordinator for Ukraine's parliamentary elections (center), with CEC Head Mykhailo Okhendovskyi (left) and CEC Member Yuri Danylevskyi, Kyiv, 14 October.COPENHAGEN, 17 October 2014 – Kent Harstedt, the OSCE Special Co-ordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission for Ukraine's parliamentary elections, has completed a week-long preparatory visit to Kyiv, Kharkiv and Luhansk oblasts.

Harstedt met senior government officials in Kyiv; the Governor of Kharkiv oblast; the leadership of Ukraine's Central Election Commission; district-level election commission officials; candidates from several political parties; long-term OSCE election observers; OSCE monitors; and other interlocutors between 13 and 17 October.

"I am encouraged to see that Ukraine's authorities are working in earnest, despite the difficult circumstances, to give citizens the chance to vote freely and safely across as much of the country as possible. Having seen the difficult circumstances for voters and election officials in parts of the east of Ukraine, I am impressed by their determination to make this a successful election," Harstedt said.

"I also emphasized during my visit that an election held in compliance with OSCE commitments can have a crucial impact in setting the stage for needed reforms, particularly during this critical time in Ukraine's modern history," he added.

Harstedt also welcomed efforts to facilitate voting by people displaced as a result of the ongoing violence. "Those people who have fled their homes to escape the violence must also have the right to have an impact on their country's future," he said.

Harstedt, a member of the Swedish Parliament, serves as a Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. In meetings with election officials, he also expressed the Parliamentary Assembly's willingness to monitor voting by Ukrainian citizens at Ukrainian embassies or consulates abroad on election day.

On 15 October in Kyiv, Harstedt also met with Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev to discuss voting possibilities and the human rights situation for members of the community.

The Special Co-Ordinator visited Luhansk oblast on 17 October for meetings with local election officials.

Harstedt will lead some 700 short-term OSCE observers, including more than 80 OSCE parliamentarians from nearly 30 countries, who will disperse across Ukraine on 26 October.

The mission will assess the elections against democratic commitments contained in the OSCE's 1990 Copenhagen Document.

For additional information, visit: http://www.oscepa.org/news-a-media/press-releases/1938-osce-parliamentarians-to-observe-upcoming-elections-in-ukraine

For more on the OSCE PA's work on Ukraine, click here.