Non-registration of Candidates’ Initiative Groups Is Well-Developed Technique Used by Belarusian Authorities
9 November is the deadline for applying for registration of imitative groups of candidates for deputies in local elections. According to preliminary estimates, the united democratic forces of Belarus have nominated about 1 thousand of candidates for deputies through collection of signatures. However not all initiative groups managed to get registration. The lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich comments on the situation:
”It is clear that the authorities are using the practice which succeeded during the last parliamentary elections, when strong opposition candidates were denied registration under fantastic reasons. This time, for instance, well-known political personalities and leaders Anatol Liabedzka, Siarhei Kaliakin, Aliaksandr Bukhvostau, Henadz Fiadynich, Iaraslau Ramanchuk, Ales Chyhir and others have been denied registration. And there are many methods for that. ‘Taking hostages’, I mean initiative group members, is widely used. They are intimidated by removal from office and psychological pressure. Then, the commissions refer to Article 5 of the Electoral Code which they explain in the following way: when one member of the initiative group refuses to collect signatures, the whole group is not registered. Besides, the authorities have completely manageable electoral commissions, which can adopt any decisions concerning oppositional candidates.
I think that almost all democratic candidates would be removed from the electoral race under different pretexts at the stage of registration, as the process of signatures collection cannot be controlled. Considering the practice of previous elections, appealing from the decision of registration denial is never followed in renewal of registration.’