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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Calls Campaign Freest Ever

KIEV -- The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said Monday that the parliamentary campaign had been the "freest and fairest" in Ukrainian history, and urged Ukrainians to top it off with a fair vote Sunday.

U.S. Ambassador John Herbst said the parliamentary campaign had been conducted in a much more transparent way than the fraudulent 2004 presidential elections, which sparked mass demonstrations that began the Orange Revolution and propelled Viktor Yushchenko to the presidency. In contrast to that contest, when the opposition barely made it onto television, party advertisements now run nonstop on television, and candidates debate each other on live programs. Campaign banners and flags dot Ukrainian cities.

"The elections campaign has been the freest and fairest in independent Ukraine's young history," Herbst told students at Kiev Pedagogical University.

He warned, however, that democracy was not a "one-time event" but a "continuing process that must be protected and nurtured to keep it strong."

Herbst noted that some problems in the election process had not been eliminated. Among them, he mentioned reports that whole city blocks did not appear on voter rolls in the Donetsk and Zhytomyr regions, and problems created by the translation of voter names from Russian to Ukrainian.

Herbst also said the United States was providing some $13.3 million of "nonpartisan assistance in support of democratic process."