Ukrainians head to the polls Sunday to choose members of Parliament. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton, in a Thursday column in The New York Times, said the election would serve as a "bellwether" for democratic institutions in the state.
There are "worrying trends," they write, of political exclusion in the country.
"We regret that the convictions of opposition leaders during trials that did not meet international standards are preventing them from standing in parliamentary elections," they write.
Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko are barred from competing because of corruption and embezzlement charges, respectively. Their supporters allege the charges are politically motivated.
Ukrainian Parliament Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the Times article "is balanced." Despite concerns over the opposition, both Western leaders said they were "mindful of Ukraine's broader reform agenda."
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe announced it would unveil the findings of its observer mission during a Monday news conference from Kiev. There are more than 800 observers from 42 countries participating in an international election observation mission there.