Ukraine election takes to the streets with TV

Street TV covering solon debates, bridging cities

KIEV — Ukraine voters in this 50-million plus Eastern European nation are encountering an extra tool in this month’s presidential election campaign: the territory’s first serious attempt at live street television.

The venture, called Street TV, has been up and running for three months, sending cameras around Ukraine. The result is rebroadcast on national channels, and the project also stages TV-bridges between cities.

The Oct. 31 elections ended with a standoff between incumbent Leonid Kuchma and communist Petro Simonenko. They face a run-off on Sunday.

Due to continue

Street TV was set up to facilitate debate, but it will likely continue on a commercial basis once the elections are over. Funding sources remain unconfirmed, though Kuchma ally and parliamentary deputy Victor Pinchuk is believed to be behind it.

“The plan was to use TV to let the country debate the issues and overcome traditional divisions between East and West, Ukrainian and Russian populations,” said Mikhailo Pavlov, former head of Kiev’s Novy channel, who heads up Street TV.

Results contradictory

Results are often more contradictory, however — showing a country that isn’t even clear about its national language.

Meanwhile, those who don’t gain time on camera are adamant that it’s a charade aimed at lobbying for Kuchma. Others even claim the resulting tapes are being lodged with local security enforcement agencies.

Biggest action was a five-program city tour with Russian-American presenter Vladimir Pozner, broadcast on national channel Inter.