Election Detector. How to stop loving Palchevskyi. The main trends in the information space during October 19–24, 2020

Українську версію читайте тут.

The Opposition Platform – For Life party’s media began to throw mud at Palchevskyi, ICTV suddenly fell in love with Andriy Sadovyi, and “Medvedchuk vs Stus” did not break through the TV boycott. Election Detector 2.9.

Election Detector is a weekly analytical review which timely captures the main topics, trends, manipulations, and changes in the information space, related to the local election. Read more detailed analysis in our regular (television news, political talk shows, information channels, Russian propaganda etc.) monitoring studies.

Previous issues: October 12—18, October 5—11, September 28 — October 4September 21—27September 14—20September 7—13August 31 — September 6August 24—30.

The Main Trends

There were no major sensations during the last week before the election – the media continued to discuss the poll by the president and even more intensively publicized their owners and favorites. Vitaliy Klychko’s PR at Inter became daily, each time it was paired with PR by Oleksandr Popov, a candidate from the Opposition Platform – For Life party. PR by the For the Future party intensified on 1+1 channel, where Ihor Palytsia made a scandal in the “Pravo na Vladu” [Right to Power] studio. ICTV suddenly dedicated several materials to Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, who, as it turned out, did everything perfect.

The most surprising change took place in the attitude of the media towards Kyiv mayoral candidate Andriy Palchevskyi: garbage media, which used to spend a lot of money on his promotion, suddenly began to publish compromising information about him. Palchevskyi also disappeared from the air of the Opposition Platform – For Life party’s media, where he was a daily guest until recently. The Opposition Platform – For Life party’s media also stopped promoting Anatoliy Shariy, while Viktor Medvedchuk came to the foreground of their broadcasts.

However, the scandalous decision of the court to ban Vakhtang Kipiani’s book about Vasyl Stus was hardly covered by the media belonging to the members of the Opposition Platform – For Life party. However, the central television channels owned by Viktor Pinchuk also kept silent about it in the prime-time news, and Ukraine channel mentioned it only once. It seems that the ban on mentioning Medvedchuk, in any context, extends even to such important and negative for him coverage opportunities.

During the last week before the election, in the news, there were more materials about the peculiarities of the voting procedure as well as about violations of the election process.

The most important events related to the election, which were covered in the media in the period from October 19 to October 25 2020

The European Solidarity party received a fake letter from the SBU;

The court banned the distribution of Kipiani’s book about Medvedchuk — the publishing house will appeal — the book was sold out — the president’s office “took note” —  the Minister of Culture supported Kipiani — the publishing house publishes a new edition;

The Council of Europe will observe the Ukrainian elections remotely;

The People’s Servant party will soon have a new code of ethics, Kachura says;

The CEC dismissed the Ivano-Frankivsk TEC in full for violating the law and formed a new one;

Zelenskyi addressed the Verkhovna Rada;

Zelenskyi says the Great Construction program will continue after the election;

Results of the poll by the Rating company have been published;

In Rivne, the car of a candidate from the People’s Servant party was set on fire;

The president promises, that the amnesty in Donbas will not be for everyone;

Zelenskyi’s poll will be funded by the People’s Servant party;

The CEC warns, that counting the votes will take a lot of time;

People’s Servant Mykyta Poturayev says that after the election a new majority with the For the Future party may be formed in the Verkhovna Rada;

Volodymyr Balukh was discharged from the hospital;

Ukrainians are divided in half  in their attitude to Zelenskyi’s poll;

A people’s servant wants to cancel the second round of mayoral elections and hold it after the quarantine — the Committee of Voters is against — the party does not support this idea;

Poroshenko considers Zelenskyi’s poll to be illegal agitation;

Zelenskyi promises strict quarantine, if there are more than 9,500 patients a day;

The president and a hundred people’s deputies from the People’s Servant party went to Donbas;

Zelenskyi accused the mayors of killing people;

Klychko contracted coronavirus disease;

The SBU allegedly detained Medvedchuk’s titushky – the Opposition Platform – For Life party threatens those who say so with a lawsuit;

The court refused to cancel Zelenskyi’s poll.

The presidential poll announced previous week was the last major attempt to turn the game upside down at the national level. As for the last days before the election, when the campaigning teams are desperately fighting for the right to say the last word and influence the motivation of voters, it was a surprisingly quiet week. Except perhaps the increase in the degree of quarrels in the talk shows (especially in the Pravo na Vladu [Right to Power], which surpassed even the most marginal pro-Russian competitors) indicated the approach of a decisive moment.

But at least the news on the central television channels have finally begun to remind (or to report, because until recently two-thirds of voters were unaware) viewers about the Sunday’s election.  Ukraine reminded viewers how to check their inclusion into the voter list. 1+1 showed a whole series of materials about the voting procedure during the week, explaining the new electoral system, telling how patients with coronavirus disease will vote, etc. Already on October 23, 1+1 warned with a reference to “Opora” that the turnout will be only 40%. The Public broadcaster, STB, Inter and 112 told how the voting would take place as well as. Most channels reminded about the elections and warned about possible problems connected with them several times during the week.

Much more this week in TV news was talked about violations – bribery of voters and attempts to bribe members of election commissions, “political migrants”, the dissolution of election commissions, etc. Some channels chose to cover precisely those violations stressing on which was beneficial to their political patrons and situational favorites. For example, Ukraine stopped at bribery allegedly on behalf of Serhiy Shakhov (he does not deny that he distributed sugar, but says that it was a long time ago and the election had nothing to do with this). Inter paid attention to searches in the office of Oleksandr Omelchenko’s Unity party, which is suspected of bribing voters. However, most of the violations were covered sporadically and unsystematically, without monitoring of the developments and limiting to reports from law enforcement or observers.

Public UA: Pershyi continued its cycle of reviews of the pre-election situation in large cities; this time they covered Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Mariupol and Kyiv. On October 23, Ukraine channel made a forecast of the results in several large cities, without naming the source of the numbers: “Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klychko is likely to meet Serhiy Prytula or Iryna Vereshchuk in the second round. Odesa leader Hennadiy Trukhanov can compete with Mykola Skoryk or Oleh Filimonov. If the second round is needed in Dnipro, Mayor Borys Filatov will compete with Zahid Krasnov or Serhiy Ryzhenko. In Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi can meet Oleh Syniutka or Ruslan Koshulynsky in the second round.” However, predictions of this level of accuracy can be made without sociologists, just by looking at billboards – or tarot cards.

An important milestone in the pre-election information strategy of the parliamentary political forces was the sitting of the Verkhovna Rada on October 20, at which each party sought to promote its most recognizable speakers or candidates (for example, Oleh Siniutka who is not too famous in the scope of the country but runs for the mayor’s office in Lviv spoke on behalf of the European Solidarity party), and the People’s Servant party pinned his hopes on the president. His speech in parliament, of course, attracted the attention of journalists, but each channel chose to “balance” the presidential remarks with representatives of their closest party: on Channel 5 it was the European Solidarity party, on Channel 112 it was the Opposition Platform – For Life party, on Inter it were the Opposition Platform – For Life and For the Future parties. Another attempt by Zelenskyi to dominate in the information space before the election is an interview with four channels: Ukraine, 1+1, ICTV and Inter. However, there is still a big difference between “drawing attention to oneself” and “encouraging people to vote for the People’s Servant party”. Meanwhile, the information “tail” of the poll initiative continued to dominate the media in a way that was not in the best interest of the “servants” and Zelenskyi, especially after the version called “polls will be paid for by benefactors” (or there were even assumptions that the president will pay 100 million out of his pocket) changed to a new one – the People’s Servant party will pay. NGOs openly appealed to the president asking not to conduct the poll, and the opposition and even those who were unfriendly spread instructions on how to prosecute volunteer pollsters or simply spoil their mood. The television news journalists, meanwhile, dealt more thoroughly with the questions that were just voiced last week – in particular, ICTV used the comments by independent experts, analyzing one question every day, while 1+1 and UA: Pershyi focused on the problem of legalization of medical cannabis.

The initiative of the People’s Deputy from the People’s Servant party Tetiana Gryshchenko to cancel the second round due to the epidemic of coronavirus disease was another shot of the “servants” in the foot: at first, this news flew around the media and thundered in the television news (Inter reported: “The single-party parliamentary majority decided to change the rules a few days before the election.” Experts immediately stated the unconstitutionality of such changes and accused the People’s Servant party of a dishonest struggle. So the party again had to justify and disavow the initiative of one of the “servants” and clear out the negative out of the blue.

For active users of social networks and mediated readers of Detector Media, the loudest scandal last week was probably “Medvedchuk vs. Stus”. After all, it is about banning a book, in order to please the most odious Ukrainian politician. However, for people who still receive news from television, this story could go unnoticed. After all, most television channels did not cover it or limited themselves to passing mentions. It seems that the taboo on mentioning Medvedchuk’s name in the media of Akhmetov and Pinchuk is more important than social significance.

Among the central television channels, only Channel 5, 1+1 and the Public broadcaster covered the conflict. Subsequently, Channel 5 and the Public broadcaster tracked the topic, in particular they covered Stus reading by candlelight https://detector.media/community/article/181718/2020-10-21-u-kievi-vlashtuvali-chitannya-pri-svichkakh-knigi-pro-stusa/. The Opposition Platform – For Life party’s media were divided: Inter was silent in the news about the event in general, and on the Podrobnosti website they simply reproduced the news by the press service of the Opposition Platform – For Life party: “The court has banned the spread of Kipiani’s lampoon about Stus with false information about Medvedchuk.Channel 112 very briefly reported on the injunction only with the position of the Opposition Platform – For Life party: “Another dirty provocation failed. The court banned Kipiani from spreading false information about Medvedchuk,” the party said in a statement.” Apparently, there was no mention of Stus and Medvedchuk for PR purposes in the the Opposition Platform – For Life party media plan, and channels close to Medvedchuk’s party have already forgottem how to cover such news impartially.

Ukraine was silent about the event in the prime time news, but suddenly decided to inform about the decision of the Ministry of Culture to buy part of the circulation, describing the background as follows: “The author accuses Medvedchuk of violating legal ethics. However, the politician does not agree with this. ” Pinchuk’s channels for which Medvedchuk and the Opposition Platform – For Life party traditionally did not exist during the election campaign ignored the situation.

Manipulation with the results of sociological polls (or the use of polls by dubious political agencies) in the national media remains the monopoly of the Opposition Platform – For Life party’s media. Inter reported the results of “polls” by the Ukrainian sociological group, which is a smoke screen company for Serhiy Liovochkin’s Nova Ukraina, allegedly conducted in Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions. It seems, that the main purpose of these reports was to state that the election to the regional council will be won by the Opposition Platform – For Life party. In the following days, news on Inter showed the same reports about the Mykolayiv, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions where leadership of the Opposition Platform – For Life party to regional councils was stated. Another message included consistently manipulative results on Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where there are no elections to regional councils, so the Ukrainian Sociological Group simply states the abstract “leadership” of the Opposition Platform – For Life party in the region. The quality and manipulative purpose of “polls” of Levochkin’s company can be judged from the forecast, according to which the current mayor Vadym Boichenko goes to the second round with the candidate from the Opposition Platform – For Life party Volodymyr Klymenko. Exit polls showed that Boichenko was more than three times ahead of Klymenko, winning almost 70% and gaining an obvious victory in the first round.

The results of opinion polls conducted by reputable polling institutions were of much less interest to television journalists. In particular, on October 20, the results of the Rating agency poll were reported by 1+1; On October 22, the same channel took the following message from a survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, published three days earlier: “Ukrainians associate corruption mostly with the fifth president Petro Poroshenko, and his party.” 

An interesting metamorphosis took place in the media which promoted one of the main hidden advertisement sponsors and, it seems, the main loser of the Kyiv elections – Andriy Palchevskyi. As Aliona Romaniuk the author of the Po Toi Bik Novyn [On the Other Side of the News] project noted, drastic changes took place in the policy of garbage resources which promoted Palchevskyi in early October. The candidate, who had previously been widely promoted here, suddenly “lost his rating sharply” and stopped “breathing in the neck” of Vitaliy Klychko. In addition, he had many shortcomings, and even very serious ones, against some of which people even protested in the streets of Kyiv. At the same time, Andriy Palchevsky quietly disappeared from the air of talk shows of the Opposition Platform – For Life party’s channels, and Dmytro Hordon began to spread compromising information against the candidate saying that he is a Russian citizen, a current officer of the Russian secret services, etc. Using the occasion, Palchevskyi was included into the Peacekeeper database, where he had not been present for some reason. The negative about Palchevsky was actively spread by the same media that had previously promoted him. And the pinnacle of this trend was the message in the PR digest of the Inter channel: “The leader of the Eco-Party, Boryslav Bereza, suspects the People’s Servants of dishonesty, he wrote on Facebook. The ex-people’s deputy and the candidate in the Kyiv City Council is sure: the government creates a so-called “controlled opposition” in the person of Palchevskyi’s party. Bereza assures: the main goal is to divert votes from competitors.” It seems that if we see Palchevskyi’s character in the next series of the Ukrainian political epic, it will not be under the media umbrella of the Opposition Platform – For Life party.

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