Ruling of Central Electoral Commission Prohibits Outdoor Agitation
On January 14, 2003 the Central commission of the Republic of Belarus on elections and holding of republican referenda adopted the ruling “About explanation for usage of norms of the Electoral code of the Republic of Belarus that provide holding of meetings of candidates into local Deputy Soviets with the electorate”.
This Ruling considerably eliminated rights of candidates to Local Soviets to agitation.
According to point 1 of the Ruling all meetings with the electorate should take place in closed buildings, defined by circuit, territorial commissions and appropriate executive commissions and administrations.
In order to hold a meeting outdoors a candidate will have to apply for permission to the appropriate executive in 15 days before the meeting. The executive committee has the right to change the place and time of the action or prohibit it at all.
This Ruling of the Central commission contradicts to demands of Article No. 45 of the Electoral code of the Republic of Belarus, according to which citizens of the Republic of Belarus, political parties and other public associations, working collectives, entrusted persons of candidates to deputy position have the right to free and all-round discussion of pre-electoral programs of candidates, their political, business and personal qualities, agitation for or against candidate at assemblies, meetings, in mass media and at meetings with the electorate. It’s worth mentioning that according to the fourth part of Article No. 45 of the Electoral code the legislative acts concerning the order of holding mass actions can be applied to meetings with the electorate only in the case when referenda questions are discussed. As a result of the Ruling, candidates and members of their initiative groups can be punished for violation of Article No. 167.1 of the Code of Administrative Violations if they hold meetings with the electorate out of buildings, whereas organization of such meetings by parties Decree No. 11 provides liquidation of the parties through court for violation of the order of organization and holding of mass actions.