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UNH Expert on Russian Affairs Chosen to be Election Monitor in Ukraine

Release Date:
4/25/2014 9:00 PM
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April 25, 2014

Matthew Schmidt, featuresMatthew Schmidt

WEST HAVEN, CONN.  – Matthew Schmidt, an assistant professor at the University of New Haven, has been chosen by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to serve as a monitor for the May 25 national election in Ukraine.

Schmidt was chosen after being nominated by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and being interviewed by OSCE. Schmidt, who lives in New Haven and hails from Hays, Kan., holds a joint appointment at the University of New Haven in political science and national security.

“I am very excited and honored to be part of creating the conditions for a democratic Ukraine,” said Schmidt, an expert on Russian affairs. “As a student of democratic institutions, I believe the long-term security of the world depends on the extension of the free and fair elections to as many people as possible.”

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission is being deployed in response to a request from Ukraine’s government and a consensus agreement by all 57 OSCE participating states. The monitors are to contribute to reducing tensions and fostering peace, stability and security, according to OSCE.

The election will decide who will be president of Ukraine and whether a new constitution is ratified. The election is a majority vote election, but since there are so many candidates, political observers say it is unlikely a candidate will win more than 50 percent of the vote on 25 May.

If a majority candidate is not identified, there will be a run-off election in mid-June between the two highest vote-getters.

Schmidt, who speaks Russian, is expected to be in Ukraine from May 19-29 and has been asked to be ready to return in mid-June. He does not yet know what part of Ukraine he will be working in.

“We have been asked to be there to monitor polling locations and, afterward, to monitor the transportation and counting of ballots,” he said.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 the university enrolls approximately 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.