Squeeze and Pressure -- Methods of Election Commissions
When district election commissions were formed, they began the next stage of the election campaign – registration of candidates’ initiative groups. This stage has never been a problem before. As a rule, all initiative groups were registered during all previous elections. Now some district election commissions insistently refuse to register the groups. It has become a real problem for some well-known regional figures.
Here are some examples. On August 4 Siarhei Salash applied for registration of his initiative group to Barysaw city district election commission # 77. Siarhei Salash is the head of the Civic Initiative “For Clean Barysaw” and a member of BPF board. The next day members of the initiative group found themselves under strong pressure. Some of them got anonymous phone calls with threats and demands to confirm that their membership was not voluntary. On Sunday, August 8, representatives of the district election commission visited Tamara Sadchanka, member of Salash’s initiative group. They did not introduce themselves. Under their pressure the woman was forced to refuse from membership in a written form. After a talk with Siarhei Salash she wrote a new application where she confirmed the fact of pressure on her from the election commission and her wish to be member of the initiative group.
In the morning of August 9 another team member, Halina Bashkova, was visited at her summer house by top managers of the state company she worked for. They threatened to fire her (not to extend the term of her contract) and demanded to leave the group. The woman was afraid to loose her job and signed the statement.
The same very day, at 3 p.m. the election used her statement as the ground not to register Siarhei Salash’s initiative group. Mr. Salash and an observer, nominated by citizens, were deprived of the right to be present at the session of the commission when the issue was considered.
During the same session the election commission refused to register the initiative group of another well-known person in Barysaw, UCP member, Lew Marholin. The reasons for refusal were similar. That’s how one of the districts was left without both candidates of 5+, who enjoy wide support of Barysaw residents.
The authorities haven’t used such methods before. Pressurizing and blackmailing people with job contracts they started to exclude the main candidates of the democratic coalition from the election process. These and similar examples are already enough to draw a conclusion that the parliamentary elections in Belarus will not be democratic.