News for September 2008

29.09.2008 Parliamentary Election: Human Rights Defenders draw preliminary conclusions

Human Rights Defenders had a press conference where they shared their assessment of this year's parliamentary election campaign. This is the preliminary conclusions they arrived to:

Minsk, September 29th, 2008

Elections to the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, 4th convocation.

29.09.2008 Mahiliou: “MP” Yushkevich obtained victory in packs

“When the election day ballot box was opened, we noticed small packs of ballot papers folded in half (about 6-20 ballot papers in one pack)”. There were at least 6 or 7 packs like this. BRSM observer Raman agrees with that. In fact, from time to time it was he who pointed at such packs of ballot papers, folded in this doubtful manner. Later a big pile of about 200 ballot papers appeared on the edge of the table that was gradually spread among other ballot papers. These were clean unfolded ballot papers ticked off in favour of Yushkevich. BRSM observer Raman also saw that pile. Possibly, there were several piles like that because it was impossible to monitor the actions of all commission members at the same time.” – Ihar Barysau says

29.09.2008 Activists persecuted after rally on September 28

Late evening, after the rally on Kastrychnitskaya Square, the police detained several protesters. Andrei Zubarau, Heorhi Paulenka, and Siarhei Piatrouski are among the detained. We are trying to find out the names of the other detained activists.

Several rally participants, Franak Viachorka among them, were severely beaten by strangers at the crossing of Bahdanovicha and Niakrasava streets.

29.09.2008 Head of CIS mission lauds Belarus' vote

Minsk, 29 September. Belarus' elections for the House of Representatives were "free and open," Sergei Lebedev, head of the CIS election observation mission, told reporters in Minsk on September 29.

29.09.2008 No oppositionists get through to Parliament

Belarusians like to criticize authorities, but they do not like the word “opposition” and are afraid to lose what they have and do not want to drastically change their way of life if the opposition comes to power, as this may disturb their comfortable life, commented Lidziya Yarmoshyna, head of the central elections commission, at a news conference held at 2 a.m. on September 29. Ms. Yarmoshyna claimed that she did not have data about the voting results in the remaining 11 districts.

29.09.2008 After protest rally on October Square Franak Viachorka and BPF Youth beaten up

On September 28 right after the protest rally against rigged election results, four active participants of the rally were beaten up. One of the leaders of the BPF Youth (The Belarusian Popular Front youth branch) Franak Viachorka was among them.

29.09.2008 Vitebsk: International observers defended domestic ones from lieutenant-colonel.

No domestic observers were allowed to observe the procedure of establishment of voting results in district commissions of Vitebsk-Horkauskaya district # 17, Vitebsk-Chyhunachnaya district # 19, Vitebsk-Kastrychnitskaya district # 20, and Vitebsk rural district # 21.

29.09.2008 Mazyr: “Competent bodies” to deal with precinct commission

The district election commission of Mazyr district # 42 having considered the complaint of observer Bialou about violations of the Election Code, sent it to the “competent bodies”.

S. Bialou appealed against action of precinct election commission # 11 and personally its chairman D. Miler. The observer registered the fact that the commission failed to provide for the order of vote counting required by law; the vote counting was done not separately, but ballot papers from all boxes were mixed together.

The “competent bodies” will also have to find out what the commission chairperson did when he took all the ballot papers to a separate room, spent there 15-20 minutes, and then joined the other commission members with the protocol of the voting results.

All members of the district election commission voted in favor of clarifying those circumstances.

29.09.2008 Barysau: Half thousand ballot papers in mobile ballot box

Observers Zmitser Babitski and Zmitser Matselski registered an unjustifiably high number of ballot papers in the mobile ballot box for voting at home. That happened at polling station # 45 (secondary school # 23), in Barysau rural district # 63.

According to their calculations, the real turn out, including early voting, at this polling station with the total number of voters 2, 814, was no more than 30 per cent. However, half a thousand ballot papers was found in the mobile ballot box for voting at home.

The observers are preparing a complaint to the prosecutor’s office.

28.09.2008 Central electoral commission says the turnout is 75,3%

According to the Central electoral commission, the turnout at the elections to the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus is 75,3%.

28.09.2008 Mahiliou: observer Barys Bukhel gets expelled from polling station

The election observer Barys Bukhel has been expelled from polling station #95 of electoral constituency #86 in Mahiliou. He was expelled for an attempt to make a photo of counting of votes by members of the electoral commission.

28.09.2008 Interesting results at polling station #14 in Minsk village constituency

The counting of votes is already over at polling station #14 of Minsk village constituency. According to the official information, 1 571 electors voted. It is quite interesting that 346 of them voted against all candidates.

28.09.2008 Hrodna: secrecy of poll

According to the information of Siarhei Malchyk, a proxy of a candidate at Hrodna-Tsentralnaya electoral constituency #50 Siarhei Antusevich, nothing has changed in the procedure of vote counting since the previous electoral campaign. Members of electoral commissions pass the information about the results of their calculation of votes to the heads of the commissions, without making any announcements. Independent observers and representatives of wide public have no opportunity to control the ‘calculations’ performed by the heads of commissions. Even members of the commissions cannot check whether their numbers are calculated right. So, heads of electoral commissions have great possibilities for forging the results of voting.

28.09.2008 No separate vote counting in Baranavichy and Zhlobin

According to the observer Ales Slabatsin, who monitors the elections at polling station #1 of Baranavichy village constituency #7, violations of the electoral laws started with the beginning of counting of votes. The head of the electoral commission Mikalai Hryniuk ordered to open all ballot boxes. When the observer demanded that the commission conducted separate counting of votes, as it is required by the law, the head of the commission answered: ‘It is not demanded from us’.

28.09.2008 Vitsebsk: Strange migration of constituency commissions

Till the afternoon of 28 September the electoral commission of Vitsebsk-Chkalauskaya constituency #18 was situated at secondary school #45 in Vitsebsk. However, in the afternoon the commission disappeared from the school. No information about it was published in the mass media and the reasons were not explained.

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