Report: Analysis and Preliminary Conclusions of the First Stage of the Parliamentary Election

2004 2004-08-10T10:00:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Human Rights Center "Viasna"

Election of Deputies to the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus – 2004

Report: Analysis and preliminary conclusions of the first stage of the election.

Part I
Social and Political Situation before and after Election Announcement

The Election of deputies of the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus was announced by Ordinance of the President of the Republic of Belarus # 332 of July 14, 2004. October 17, 2004 was determined the date of the election.

The social and political situation before and after the announcement of the election, in 2003 and the first half of 2004 remained as complicated as in the previous years. The regime continued to pursue the policy of establishing full control over the society, allowing no reforms which could make the social and political life of the country more democratic.

In 2003 the authorities increased the pressure on non-governmental organizations. In the course of 2003 and in the first half of 2004 the Ministry of Justice continued to initiate legal processes to close down NGOs. As the result of the action designed by the authorities, more than 50 NGOs were shut down by courts. It was typical that the authorities primarily shut down the most active NGOs, which took part in previous elections: either in election observation or mobilization campaigns.

In the end of 2003 and the first half of 2004 the authorities continued to prosecute (administratively and criminally) public and political activists. During the last 6 months (January – July 2004) the authorities brought 10 new politically-motivated criminal charges. Activists of political parties, NGOs, human rights organizations, youth and trade union movements became victims of politically-motivated persecution.

During the whole period there were numerous cases of administrative detention of NGO and political party activists. Only on July 21, 2004 the police detained more than 100 people in Vitebsk and Minsk; 15 of them were sentenced to different terms of administrative arrest.

Activists face increased pressure at their place of employment or studies. In 2004 we registered cases of KGB pressure on the activists of the youth independent movement. Some of them were excluded from educational institutions and fired from work.
Human rights organizations registered the cases of political figures and activists being beaten by unknown individuals.

In 2003 and the first half of 2004 the state national TV channel continued to broadcast documentaries and shows discrediting both individual political and public figures and political parties in general.
In their turn, political parties had no access to state mass media and had no opportunity to refute libelous reports about them.

In 2004 the contract system, initiated by the authorities, has been introduced vigorously. Workers and state company employees were forced to sign short-term contracts. In the majority of cases, the contracts were signed for the term of 1 year. This system allows for high-level manipulation. Thus, members of election commissions can be easily manipulated, because most of them are employees of state-owned enterprises and institutions.

Despite the unfavorable social and political conditions, pro-democratic parties of Belarus made the decision to take an active part in the parliamentary election. The single party declaring a boycott was CCP BPF (Christian Conservative Party BPF). Several election blocs have been created: People’s Coalition “Five Plus”, European Coalition, Young Belarus, and Respublika parliamentary group.

However, in the end of 2003 the authorities made significant changes in the legal regulation of activities of political parties. The changes had a serious effect on further political campaigning. Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus # 20 of 11.09.2004 amended Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus # 2 of 26.01.1999 “About some measures to regulate activities of political parties, trade unions, and other non-governmental organizations”. Now associations (unions) of political parties are also subject to state registration.
Respective alternations have been made to the Rules of processing documents in the application for state registration of political parties, trade unions, other NGOs, and of their organizational structures. The alternations were made by the Ruling of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus # 25 of 29.10.2003.

Meanwhile, the Law “About Political Parties” does not require state registration of associations (unions) of political parties. The Chamber of Representatives did not pass the new draft of this law before the election. It’s worth mentioning that neither Decree # 20, nor the Ruling of the Ministry of Justice contain the term “coalition”. In spite of that, in June and July 2004 the Ministry of Justice issued a warning to five political parties, which are members of the People’s Coalition Five Plus. The Ministry demanded from the People’s Coalition Five Plus to apply for registration in 30 days. Simultaneously, the Justice Ministry warned the political parties that any activity on behalf of unregistered organizations, including coalitions, is illegal.

In order to ground its position, the Justice Ministry referred not to the norms of the law, but to Ozhegov’s Explanatory Dictionary of Russian Language. That way they tried to prove that “coalition” corresponds to the term “association”, and thus, is subject to state registration.

In July 2004 the Justice Ministry has reinforced pressure on political parties, which are members of the People’s Coalition Five Plus. The Ministry initiated liquidation procedure of one of them, the Labor Party, just before the election was announced. On August 2, 2004 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus ruled close down the Labor Party.

At the same time, numerous proposals and demands of the international community and Belarusian society to amend the Election Code in order to improve it did not get much reaction. Official representatives responded they had no time to do that and would not change the election rules several months before the election.

Thus, in the run-up to the election the authorities deliberately changed legal regulation of political party activities, and created “legal conditions” for pressure on the formed coalitions, keeping the opportunity to use that as a ground for closure of political parties.

Part II
President Lukashenka’s Position on Elections

Taking the power concentrated in the hands of the President into account, assessment of Pres. Lukashenka position on election is an important element of the election process assessment in Belarus. Alexander Lukashenka has a real possibility to influence the social and political processes in the country through the executive “vertical”, and is able to impact the work of the Central Commission for Elections and National Referendums by personal appointment of 50% of its members.

During the press conference on July 20, 2004, Lukashenka responded to the question about his influence on the composition of the next parliament: “There will be no pressure. But I will see how the local authorities follow my instruction: 30% of the incumbent deputies must be in the next parliament, in order to ensure continuity and stability of the legislative power. Do I have to worry about that? Yes, I do. I gave a commission that women should make up no less than 30, up to 40% in the new parliament. Is that bad, or uncivilized?” During the same press-conference Alexander Lukashenka outlined his attitude to the pro-democratic opposition: “People will discern betrayers, renegades and those who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. If people don’t do it themselves, we will help them to do so”.

July 27, 2004, speaking at the special meeting on the issues of preparation and holding the election, Alexander Lukashenka continued to elaborate upon his sense of the oncoming election process. In the presence of representatives of the Central Commission, representatives of the President’s office and executive power, who will be responsible for holding the election, as well as representatives of the official media Lukashenka repeated his requirements to the composition of the future parliament. He pointed out that “not less than 30% of people’s representatives who are already experienced in law-making” should become members of the new parliament. He stressed: “We are obliged to keep the most constructive part of the deputies of the present convocation”. Besides, “women, youth, and veterans must take a decent place in the parliament”.

A. Lukashenka believes that “the legislative body of the next convocation will be the most active and the most capable of successfully solving the crucial tasks on the new stage of the country development, a single team of all branches of state power”.

Another message of Mr. Lukashenka about desirability of one-round elections was quite of interest as well: “In no circumstances should we get involved in some additional rounds, because this is money, this is loosing attention, and this is losses in the economy”.

Again, when characterizing representatives of the pro-democratic opposition and their possible participation in the election, A. Lukashenka clearly outlined the position of the executive authorities in the election process: “People should be told exactly, who is who… We cannot let the processes develop as they might. The authorities must actively influence all of these issues, in order not to allow anarchy and destabilization of the situation in the country… The unbridled and destructive opposition does not have support from our society and will hardly get support from the people in the oncoming election”.

Evaluating the speech, representatives of 5 pro-democratic political parties and influential NGOs signed a statement, which says: “The authorities have determined in public, what categories of the population and in what ratio should get to the Chamber of Representatives… The authorities have already made the decision who personally deserves being a deputy, and who shouldn’t be let to the Chamber of Representatives, no matter they enjoy voters’ support. This is the real attitude of the authorities to voters and citizens of Belarus. It is disrespectful and cynical”.

It should be pointed out, that the executive presidential vertical takes directions of A. Lukashenka as an order for execution. Every official on the national and local level and their work efficiency will be evaluated by their ability to execute the directions. This is what their further career depends on. That is why there is no doubt that the presidential vertical will do everything to carry out the instructions regardless of the election legislation and the fact that they are contributing to non-transparency and non-fairness of the election.

Obviously, the executive authorities do not perceive the democratic opposition as a political and social partner worth of respect. Through President A. Lukashenka they call its representatives “betrayers and renegades”, creating an extremely negative image of the opposition in the Belarusian society.

And again during his speech Lukashenka stressed his vision of the parliament as a dependent branch of power, which should exist in “a single team of all branches of state power”.

Thus, analyzing speeches of A. Lukashenka during the press- conference and the special meeting on the issue of elections, we point out an extraordinarily high level of assumed interference of the executive authorities with the election process (direction to carry out the elections in one round); and in composition of the next parliament (indication of the percentage of deputies who “must” stay in parliament and the percentage ratio of deputies by age and gender).
Such “parameters” of the next parliament can be achieved only through full usage of the administrative resource, strict control over the election commissions, falsification and other kinds of abuse by the executive authorities in the course of the election.

Part III

Legal Regulation of the Election

All hopes of the Belarusian democratic community for democratization of the Belarusian election legislation before the parliamentary election were in vain. The ODIHR/OSCE recommendations, given after the elections in 2000 and 2001, have not been implemented. Members of the Respublika parliamentary group managed to introduce the draft law with amendments to the Election Code to the parliament. However, the proposal was voted out. The deputies made their decision in spite of the termless hunger-strike of MPs V. Fralou, U. Parfianovich, S. Skrabets, and several activists of democratic parties.

In July 2004 the OSCE and the official representative of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus MP Mikhail Arda signed the Declaration about the parliamentary election. I the Declaration the Belarusian authorities declared their intention to hold democratic and transparent election according to the standards, worked out by the OSCE. However, it should be pointed out that the signed document was of the declarative nature and did not contain obligations for the Belarusian side.

Thus, the election of the deputies to the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly will be regulated by the current Election Code of the Republic of Belarus and the Rulings of the Central Commission.

According to Art 33 of the Election Code of the Republic of Belarus, the Central Commission has the right to issue Rulings with the purpose to explain application of certain articles of the Election Code of the Republic of Belarus.

On the July 15, 2004 session the Central Commission passed 11 Rulings, and adopted methodical recommendations “Organizational and legal issues of the work of district election commissions for election of deputies to the Chamber of Representatives of the Republic of Belarus” and “Organizational and legal issues of the work of divisional election commissions for election of deputies to the Chamber of Representatives of the Republic of Belarus”. It should be pointed out that the majority of the Central Commission Rulings was placed on the CC web-site with a delay. The methodical recommendations on the work of divisional election commissions did not appear on the Central Commission web-site at all.
As for the Rulings of the Central Commission, they did not make any new explanations on organization and holding of the election process in comparison to the previous elections.

Just as previously, divisional and district election commissions do not have individual stamps. According to the Central Commission Ruling # 17 of 15.07.2004, district commissions are to use the stamps of district, city (cities of oblast subordination), local administrations (in the cities with district division). According to the same Ruling, divisional election commissions are to use the stamps produced during the previous elections. Ballot boxes will stay the same: collapsible wooden boxes with folding lids.

As for the procedure of nominating observers to polling stations, the Central Commission Ruling # 13 of 15.07.2004 improved the situation in comparison with the previous local elections and resumed the procedure which regulated this issue during the presidential election-2001. According to the Ruling, national-level bodies of political parties and non-governmental organizations have the right to nominate observers to sessions of election commissions of all levels and to polling stations.

Methodical recommendations “Organizational and legal issues of the work of district election commissions for election of deputies to the Chamber of Representatives of the Republic of Belarus”, approved by Central Commission Ruling # 5 of 20.05.2004 contain recommendations for the work of election commissions on all major stages of the election campaign:
Status and powers of district election commission members;
Creation of election districts;
Nomination and registration of candidates to the Chamber of Representatives;
Recording voting results in a district; etc.

It should be pointed out that, unlike in the previous election, the Central Commission made those recommendations available for public. At the same time, thorough examination of the Central Commission recommendations indicates that some of the provisions might lead to certain difficulties in holding the election.

Thus, the chapter of recommendations regulating the order of registration of an initiative group of citizens for nominating a candidate has the provision that a commission should check for Belarusian citizenship of every initiative group member before registering the group. At the same time, it is not explained how they should do the check-up. In some election districts, in particular, in Vitebsk-Horki district #17, application documents of one of the contenders were turned down on the ground that he failed to bring passports of all initiative group members.
The chapter of recommendations regulating the order of filling in the subscription lists gives an incorrect formulation of the rules to fill in the “date of birth” column. The recommendations say: “As for the voters who turned 18 this year, day, month, and year of birth should be indicated; as for other voters, only the year of birth may be indicated”. Meanwhile, there is no indication, if these data can be abbreviated, there is no model given. At the same time, the part of the chapter which explains the order of filling in the “date of voter’s signature” column indicates, that the day, month, and year of putting a signature may be written in full or shortened version. There is a model of doing so: 10 August 2004, or 10.08.2004, or 10.08.04.
In practice it might lead to incorrect filling of the “date of birth” column. Members of initiative groups might fill it in by analogy with the “date of voter’s signature” column, which could lead to invalidation of a signature.

The chapter of the methodical recommendations regulating production of campaign posters has the provision which directly contradicts the Election Code. This chapter states that in order to produce campaign posters candidates are to use only the means from the state budget and off-budget fund, created by the Central Commission. It does not allow using the means of candidates, proxies, political parties, other non-governmental organizations, institutions and citizens. At the same time, Art 45 part 8 of the Election Code says that from the moment an appropriate commission registers a candidate political parties, working bodies, citizens who nominated candidates, and candidates have the right to produce campaign posters, slogans, statements, inscriptions, leaflets, and photo-materials (posters).

As for methodical recommendations “Organizational and legal issues of the work of divisional election commissions for election of deputies to the Chamber of Representatives of the Republic of Belarus”, the issues of maintenance of ballot papers and ballot boxes during the early vote are not explained.
Special attention should be paid to the chapter of recommendations regulating the vote count procedure at a polling station. The procedure of the report on the results of counting the votes in three ballot boxes (early voting box, mobile ballot box, and Election Day ballot box) is described in the following way:
“The data about the number of ballot papers in each of the above-mentioned ballot boxes, and the results of vote count should be reflected in the report of the meeting of the divisional election commission. The report on voting results drawn up under the model set up by the Central Commission indicates the aggregate result of voting”.

Thus, divisional commissions will work with two reports: report of the meeting of the divisional commission, and the report on the voting results, which is drawn up under the model set up by the Central Commission.

This contradicts the requirements of Art 55 of the Election Code. It provides for a single report, which should be posted up immediately after its completion for anyone to find out the results of the election. According to the Central Commission recommendations, only one report (completed under its model) is to be posted up. Recommendations do not oblige divisional commissions to make the “report of the commission meeting” available for public.

That means that in practice observers and candidates’ proxies will not be able to see these reports. Correspondingly, they will not be able to find out the results of vote count of separate votes (early voting, home voting, and Election Day voting). That is because the report filled in according to the model of the Central Commission indicates only the aggregate voting results.

Recommendations also do not say where the first report (of the commission’s meeting) should be attached. There is no regulation whether this report should be delivered to district commissions. There is no instruction to keep it or to deliver it to a district commission together with other materials. These circumstances create additional possibilities for falsification of voting results at a polling station.

According to Art 21 of the Election Code, lists of citizens are available for public 15 days before the election. Citizens are ensured the possibility to familiarize themselves with the lists and check their correctness at a polling station.

However, methodical recommendations “Organizational and legal issues of the work of divisional election commissions for election of deputies to the Chamber of Representatives of the Republic of Belarus”, approved by the Central Commission, made serious restrictions to the right of voters to see voters’ lists, and created the possibility to conceal the real number of voters, registered at a polling station, from observers and general public. The procedure of familiarization with voters’ lists is described in the recommendations in the following way: a divisional commission provides a voter with a possibility to check the fact that he/she is included in the voters’ list and to correct the data about them and their family members. At the same time it is not allowed to hand the whole list or some parts of the list to a voter. The process of familiarization should be carried out by members of divisional election commission who should fulfill the requirement of keeping voters’ lists in safety. Proceeding from this explanation, one might come to the conclusion that lists of voters will not be posted up and not be available for public. By this explanation the recommendations go beyond Art 21 of the Election Code and contradict the principle of transparency of the election process. It makes the information about the number of registered voters unavailable for citizens, representatives of political parties, and NGOs.

Lists of citizens, who have the right to participate in the election, are re-defined by divisional election commissions before each election round. In conjunction with the Central Commission recommendations, concealment of the number of voters at a polling station will provide divisional commissions with additional possibilities to manipulate the lists of voters and make uncontrolled changes in the number of voters. Obviously, that creates further possibilities to falsify the voting results.

Part IV

Formation of District Election Commissions

In order for the election to the Chamber of Representatives to take place, 110 election districts have been created.
Under the schedule of organizational events to prepare and hold the parliamentary election, approved by the Central Commission, an average number of voters at an election district was to be determined no later than June 1, 2004. According to the Central Commission Ruling # 4 of May 20, 2004, the average number of voters at a district is 64 585.

The Central Commission Ruling # 11 of July 15, 2004 defined the election districts at the suggestion of oblast executive committees and Minsk city executive committee. According to Art 15 of the Election Code of the Republic of Belarus, the number of voters at a district should not be at over 10 % variance with the average number of voters. Meanwhile, at some of the formed election districts the number of votes is more than 10% less than the average. For instance, Hlybokaye election district # 22 (57 300 voters); Miory election district (57 400 voters); Pastavy election district # 30 (57 500 voters); Talachyn election district # 31 (56 200 voters); and Buda-Kashalova election district # 40 (57 225 voters).

Nomination of representatives to district election commissions began from the moment when the list of election districts was published and ended on July 30, 2004.
The procedure of nominating representatives to district election commission is regulated by Art 35 of the Election Code. The Central Commission did not issue any rulings on that issue. Samples of documents for nominating representatives of political parties, non-governmental organizations and by signature collection, adopted by the Central Commission, were published on its official web-site. However, it was done with a delay, several days after the beginning of the nomination process.

According to Art 35 of the Election Code, political parties, non-governmental organizations, working bodies of organizations or their structural divisions, as well as citizens by application can nominate only one representative to an appropriate district election commission.
National-level governing bodies of political parties have the right to nominate their representatives to become members of district election commissions. Political parties are to nominate their representatives at sessions of their governing bodies. 100 citizens living in a district have the right to nominate their representative to a district election commission by application.

District commissions were formed by the Presidiums of oblast and Minsk city councils and oblast and Minsk city executive committees.

It’s worth mentioning that neither the Election Code, nor the Central Commission Rulings contain the criteria for selection of representatives to the commissions. The Election Code does not oblige the bodies forming the commissions to call individuals who applied for membership in a commission to their meetings, to respond in a written form, or to carry out interviews with contenders, etc.

The inquiry of U. Navasiad, member of the Chamber of Representatives, to the Central Commission with the request to give official explanation of the criteria for selecting committee members received no response. The reason for that was that “the Central Commission lacks the power to give extended explanation of the norms of the election legislation”.

Meanwhile, during one of the press-conferences head of the Central Commission Lidya Yarmoshyna determined her own criteria to the principle of forming election commissions. In particular, she mentioned she was not the supporter of the first-come, first-served principle. According to L. Yarmoshyna, individuals with higher education in law and experience of working in election commissions are to be the most welcome. In spite of the fact that formally the Central Commission has no relation to the process of forming election commissions, these words could serve as a certain criteria for selecting candidates to commissions.

Political parties and non-governmental organization have actively nominated their members to the district commissions. Below you will find the table of members of pro-democratic political parties, nominated and admitted to the commissions.

BPF (nominated: 50)
Minsk City 1
Minsk oblast 0
Brest oblast 1
Vitebsk oblast 0
Homel oblast 0
Hrodna oblast 0
Mahilow oblast 0

UCP (nominated: 61)

Minsk City 0
Minsk oblast 0
Brest oblast 1
Vitebsk oblast 1
Homel oblast 3
Hrodna oblast 0
Mahilow oblast 0

BSDH (nominated: 23)

Minsk City 0
Minsk oblast 0
Brest oblast 0
Vitebsk oblast 0
Homel oblast 0
Hrodna oblast 0
Mahilow oblast 0

PCB (nominated: 78)

Minsk City 4
Minsk oblast 0
Brest oblast 4
Vitebsk oblast 6
Homel oblast 5
Hrodna oblast 0
Mahilow oblast 0

Labor Party (nominated: 26)
Minsk City 0
Minsk oblast 0
Brest oblast 0
Vitebsk oblast 0
Homel oblast 0
Hrodna oblast 0
Mahilow oblast 0

BSDP(NH) (nominated: 80)

Minsk City 0
Minsk oblast 0
Brest oblast 1
Vitebsk oblast 1
Homel oblast 0
Hrodna oblast 0
Mahilow oblast 0

The total number of candidates nominated by democratic parties to district election commissions was 318. Only 20 people became members of district election commissions.
Pro-democratic opposition parties represent 2 % of the election commissions. Together with representatives of pro-governmental parties, the number of representatives of political parties is a little over 7 %. Representatives of non-governmental organizations make up 20% of the total number of district commission members. The overwhelming majority of them are the representatives of pro-governmental NGOs (Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM), Federation of Trade Unions, Union of Veterans of Afghanistan, etc.). BRSM is represented by 94 people in 110 election districts, Federation of Trade Unions – 80, Union of Veterans – 66, Belarusian Union of Women – 28. Meanwhile, representatives of such large national NGOs such as BPF “Adradzhennie” (35 people nominated, 2 got in), Belarusian Helsinki Committee (11 nominated, 1 got in) were practically not included in the commissions.

Thus, already at the stage of forming district commissions the authorities create the conditions for full control over the election process and possibilities for manipulation and falsification.

The majority of commission members were nominated by working bodies of state-owned enterprises and institutions (28.5%), and by citizens (33.4%). At the same time we should point out that in the majority of cases the official mass media when publishing the lists of commission members failed to indicate occupation of commission members. Out of 6 oblasts and Minsk city, the above-mentioned data were published only in 2 cases. We believe this is done with the goal to conceal the fact that the created district commissions are dependent on the structures of the executive power. The majority of commission members were nominated by citizens. However, just as during the previous elections, we observe the tendency, that chiefs of state organizations and institutions and representatives of local executive power get nominated by application of citizens. For example, the following people became members of district election commissions through nomination by citizens’ application:
Barysau rural election district # 78 -- L. D. Belahurava (chief expert of the department for registration and distribution of public housing of Barysau city executive committee); M. V. Hurko (deputy head of correctional center # 14);
Lahoisk election district #82 – I. K. Babrouski (chief of Residence of the President of the Republic of Belarus “Aziorny”);
Salihorsk election district # 90 – L. U. Palchanka (engineer for labor protection and accident prevention at the education department of Salihorsk city executive committee);
Shchuchyn election district # 62 – I. Yu. Sakalouski (deputy head of Shchuchyn district executive committee); T. P. Sidor (head of the board for labor and social protection of Voranava district executive committee).

One could observe the same tendency in nomination by working bodies. For example, the following people were nominated to district election commissions by working bodies:
Zhodzina election district # 81 – A. E. Kurakou (head of Smalavichy district inspectorate of the Ministry for Taxes and Duties); T. F. Shapkouskaya (deputy head of Smalavichy district executive committee);
Stoubtsy election district # 92 – A. V. Kavalenia (head of department for youth affairs of Uzda district executive committee); Ya. U. Kramko (head of department for housing and utility services of Stoubtsy district executive committee);
Navahradak election district # 59 – I. I. Korbal (chief legal adviser of Navahradak district executive committee), etc.

Composition of district election commissions by oblast:

1.Representatives of political parties: Brest -19; Vitebsk-13; Hrodna-4; Homel-16; Mahilou-4; Minsk-7; Minsk city-38;
2. Representatives of NGOs, trade unions: Brest-47; Vitebsk-51; Vitebsk--3; Homel-37; Mahilou-26; Minsk-34; Minsk city-71;
3.Representatives of the local self-government bodies, local authorities, state structures: Brest-33; Vitebsk-0; Hrodna-7; Homel-31; Mahilow-4; Minsk -34; Minsk city-32;
4.Representatives of working bodies of enterprises (incl. state-sponsored companies): Brest-70; Vitebsk-60; Hrodna-6; Homel-49; Mahilow-70; Minsk-41; Minsk city-53;
5.Commission members, nominated by citizens: Brest-55; Vitebsk-84; Hrodna-140; Homel-88; Mahilow-63; Minsk-105; Minsk city-40;

Total: Representatives of political parties-101; Representatives of NGOs, trade unions-269; Representatives of the local self-government bodies, local authorities, state structures-141; Representatives of working bodies of enterprises (incl. state-sponsored companies)-350; Commission members, nominated by citizens-574;

The total number of members of 110 district election commissions is 1 430 people.
The composition of the district election commissions was analyzed by the way of commission members’ nomination. In the analysis we used the information published in the official mass media.

Information about representatives of political parties and non-governmental organizations applies to all political parties and NGOs, including pro-governmental parties, official trade unions, and state-run NGOs. Below you will find information about the number of seats representatives of political parties and NGOs got in district election commissions at every oblast:

Parties: PCB – 6, LDP-3, Patriotic Party-1, BSDP (NH) -1, UCP-1, CPB -1
Organizations: Veterans’ Association -- 14; FTU – 13; BRSM – 15; “All-Belarusian United Cossacks” – 1; BPF “Adradzennie”-1; Belarusian Union of Women – 7.

Parties: PCB – 5; CPB – 5; UCP – 3, LDP -- 3
Organizations: BRSM – 13, Veterans’ Association – 12; FTU – 10; LKSB – 1, BPF “Adradzennie”-1

Parties: CPB – 4; LDP - 3
Organizations: FTU -11; BRSM -14; Veterans’ Association – 6; Belarusian Union of Women – 2; Belarusian Red Cross Society – 1

Minsk city:
Parties: CPB –14; Social-Sports Party – 4; Agrarian Party – 4; LDP – 11; PCB – 4; BPF Party --1
Organizations: Belarusian Union of Women – 17; BRSM – 18; Veterans’ Association –14; FTU –12; Belarusian Red Cross Society – 5; Belarusian Association of Parents with Many Children – 2; “Health – to Children” – 2; Belarusian Union of Veterans of War in Afghanistan – 1

Parties: CPB -2, LDP -2
Organizations: BRSM -9, FTU -10, Veterans’ Association -5, Belarusian Union of Veterans of War in Afghanistan -1, Belarusian Red Cross Society -1,

Parties: LDP -5, CPB -8, PCB -3, BSDP (NH) -1, UCP -1, BPF -1,
Organizations: BRSM - 12, FTU -15, BHC -1, Veterans’ Association -7, Belarusian Union of Women -12,

Parties: CPB - 4
Organizations: Veterans’ Association -3
In Hrodna oblast several ways of nomination were used simultaneously:
Nomination by a working body and by citizens’ application;
By political parties or NGOs and by citizens’ application;
By NGO, a working body, and by citizens’ application.
The information was published in the official newspaper Hrodzenskaya Prauda. Possibly, that kind of double nomination was used also in other oblasts of the country. In the above mentioned analysis we took only one way of nomination into account (citizens’ application).

Information about representatives of the local self-government and executive bodies who became members of election commissions includes only those commission members who were selected by respective Presidiums of oblasts Deputy Councils and executive committees.

First sessions of the created district commissions were to take place no later than August 5, 2004. District election commissions started their work since that day. However, the operation mode of election commissions causes a lot of complaints from election participants. In numerous cases district commissions refuse to accept applications for registration of initiative groups and lists of initiative group members. They grounded their refusal on the fact that under regulations they had passed, they would start their work only on August 8. Besides that, the commissions referred to the schedule, approved by the Central Commission. The schedule says that candidates’ nomination starts on August 8, 2004.
At the same time, recommendations for district commissions say, district commissions are to always have one person on duty with the following open hours for voters: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. (with the break at 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.); Saturday (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.). Refusal to accept applications for initiative group registration before August 8 contradicts Art 65 of the Election Code. It does not contain such term restrictions (an application and a list of initiative group members are to be submitted no later than 65 days before the election, i.e. no later than August 12).
Thus, district commissions have created artificial and illegal obstacles during registration of candidates’ initiative groups, trying to restrain the beginning of signature collection campaigns.

Part V

This analysis enables us to state:

1. The Belarusian authorities changed the legal regulation of the order of activities and procedure of registration of political parties just before the election. That step has significantly limited the capabilities of political parties during the election campaign.
2. The Belarusian authorities did not take any steps to democratize the election legislation of the country in order for the parliamentary elections to meet the principles of openness, publicity, and transparency.
3. The Belarusian authorities failed to take OSCE/ODIHR recommendations, worked out after the elections of 2000 and 2001, into account.
4. Massive failure to include representatives of democratic parties of Belarus to district election commissions allows concluding that the lection process will be completely controlled by the executive authorities.
5. Mass propaganda in the official mass media just before the elections against the parties in opposition and individual citizens planning to run for the parliament is evidence of deliberately unequal conditions for candidates in the oncoming campaigning.
6. The methodical recommendations for election commissions, approved by the Central Commission, significantly limit the voters’ rights and create extensive possibilities for falsification of the voting results.

слухаць Радыё рацыя Міжнародная федэрацыя правоў чалавека Беларуская Інтэрнэт-Бібліятэка КАМУНІКАТ Грамадзкі вэб-архіў ВЫТОКІ Антидискриминационный центр АДЦ 'Мемориал' Беларускі Праўны Партал Межрегиональная правозащитная группа - Воронеж/Черноземье
Московская Хельсинкская группа
Молодежное Правозащитное Движение
amnesty international