Violations of Electoral Legislation during the Parliamentary election and republican Referendum held in October 2004
1. Early voting
Students’ group #43 at the Faculty of Belarusian Philology of Vitsebsk State University named after P. Masheraw sent an open letter to Nestiarovich, the Dean of the Faculty, in reply to the Faculty administration’s forcing students to participate to vote early. Indignant students wrote in their appeal: “each of us will vote at the elections and Referendum on the day of the election (during the early voting or on the day of the election) or will not participate in them. In any case this is our legal right which we want to use consciously”.
On 16 October the observers of Liavon Haravy, the candidate at election circuit #32, announced that at 17.40 on 16 October the director of Haradok Agricultural-Technical the college ordered the wardens of its dormitories to visit all rooms and force students to go early voting.
In the village of Staraye Vysokaye in Shklow region collective farmers were made to vote early. On 14 October bread was given only to those people whose families already voted. While giving out bread Mrs. Smarhonava phoned to election commission #78 and asked the chair of the commission (Natallia Hancharowa) who voted. Bread is given to the collective farmers on the account of their wages.
By instructions of the officials in Bialynichy, Mahiliow and Shklow districts electors were compulsory delivered to polling station for early voting. Thus, by instructions of the head of local agricultural enterprise in the village Rechki in Mahiliow region on 14 October 80% of the employees was transported to polling stations.
In the village of Brakava in Mahiliow region citizens were brought to the polling stations by buses starting from 9.00 on October 15. Local authorities and employees were involved in that.
On 14 October, at the assembly of directors of enterprises in the town of Bialynichy the head of Bialynichy District Executive Committee ordered all of them to make
60 % of their subordinates take part in the early election.
At all the polling stations in Mahiliow region self-made ballot-paper with the names of four candidates which demonstrated how to vote where hanged. Voting in favor was demonstrated with the name of candidate #2 which corresponds to the official candidate Uladzimir Kanapliow in the ballot-paper.
At numerous polling stations (for example, in the village of Brakava) voting cabins were absent and voters had to vote in front of the commission which violates the principle of secret vote.
At polling station #127 of Mahiliow Kastrychnitskaya election circuit #73 ballot boxes for early elections were situated outside the in a separate room, outside the polling station.
In Minsk teacher of secondary school #155 ordered children to make an entry in pupils’ mark books about holding of parents’ meeting saying where parents were to come with their passports to participate in early elections.
In Shumilin election circuit #32 enough people participated in early voting to consider the election valid at the following polling stations: polling station #25 – 53% of citizens, station #69 – 53%.
2. 17 October – the day of election and republican referendum
Former students of European Humanities University whose official place of residence was registered at the building of this university can’t take part in the voting because they haven’t received any invitations to vote after their transfer to other higher educational establishments.
At 3.30 on 17 October polling station # 19 of election circuit # 52 run out of electoral ballots though the election commissions issued them according to the number of the electors who were registered at the polling stations. The electors had to vote for the ballots to be delivered.
Unsealed ballot boxes were discovered by the proxy of the candidate of Belarusian People’s Front Viktar Ramanishka who runs at Svetlahorsk election circuit # 48. Ramanishka’s proxies also found that agitation posters of the official candidate of Valiantsina Kavaliova hanged at polling station # 57 of this election circuit.
During the early voting at Paleskaya election circuit (polling station # 99) the member of the election commission Ewhrafava and the policeman Maseka issued ballots to people and the janitor Patapolskaya advised the electors to vote for the official candidate Siarhey Kastsian.
During the early voting at Zhodzina election circuit # 81, polling station # 10 there was violated the order of work. The polling station was open till 7 p.m. and was attended by unknown persons in the absence of the head of the election commission.
The observer Mikalay Labanaw, who was nominated by the public association Belarusian People’s Front “Adradzhenne” to polling station # 109 of Mahiliow Kastrychnitskaya election circuit # 73 was detained by the police while monitoring the election at the polling station. He informed the head of the polling station commission Halina Kalinovich that from the place given to observers there he couldn’t see the ballot boxes. She didn’t do anything about this. Soon the polling station was attended by OSCE observers and M. Labanaw explained the situation to them. When the OSCE departed the police lieutenants Siarhey Khonin, Artsiom Mishernik and the policeman Viktar Antoshkin took Mr. Labanaw to Mahiliow Kastrychnitski Borough Board of Internal Affairs. There the observer was detained for three hours.
At some of the polling stations of the city of Mahiliow there is no general numeration of electors. For instance, at polling stations 111, 112 and 115 of Mahiliow election circuit # 73 the electors from each house are enumerated separately, so that the general number of the electors can be received only as a result of the calculation of votes. To our mind, it is one of the means that allows easy manipulation of the number of the electors.
At polling station # 110 of this election circuit the places of observers were situated behind the voting cabins in such a way that observers couldn’t see what was going on at the tables of the election commission. When Barys Bukhel, proxy of the candidate to the Chamber of Representatives and the member of the electoral coalition “5+” Siarhey Famin and Valery Barazienka, proxy of the candidate Uladzimir Padalian (another member of the “5+”coalition) appeared there the head of the polling station commission demanded from them to go away. When they refused to, he threatened he would compose the act that Bukhel and Berazienka agitated electors at the polling station and make members of the polling station commission sign it.
The lawyers Yury Chavusaw and Andrey Zavadski who monitored at polling station # 516 at election circuit # 107 where Vintsuk Viachorka runs were warned. The reason for the warning was that they complained against violations during so-called “home voting” (voting at the places of residence of electors). The head of the commission Palanevich said she would expel them from the polling station if they receive another warning. Yury Chavusaw also said that beside the police at the polling station there were some bullies in plain clothes who could help to lead the monitors out of the polling station. One of the observers at election circuit # 107 Alena Valynets was expelled from the polling station for having filed a complaint against a violation made by polling station commission.
There were no ballot boxes for early voting in the morning of 17 October at polling stations # 19 and 25 of election circuit # 5 of Baranavichy (they were removed from the polling station or hidden there).
By 7 p.m. of 17 October at polling station # 27 of election circuit # 5 there voted 535 persons out of the 584 who were put into the list of electors. Then the list enlarged to 611 persons and electors still go voting. The head of the commission incurred heart problems.
Information Department of HRC “Viasna”