Parliamentary election. Events and generalizations
On 24 June Alexander Lukashenka signed decree #344 On appointment of the election to the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus of the fourth convocation. According to this document, the election will take place on 28 September.
CEC chairperson states about the change of the political tonality of the campaign
On 25 June the chairperson of the Central Election Commission Lidziya Yarmoshyna said that this year’s parliamentary electoral campaign will be more open than the last one. Yarmoshyna pointed that despite the absence of conceptual changes in the legislation there can be changes in the political tonality of the campaign. It means that the political parties with different positions will be able to participate in it more actively. The CEC chairperson believes that during this electoral campaign there will be more representatives of political parties in the election commissions and also among the candidates to the Chamber of Representatives.
The chair of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak who attended the CEC sitting, liked its calm atmosphere. According to him, the commission demonstrated some ‘thaw’. Mr. Hulak applied to the CEC with the request to provide all its ruling, as not all of them are published at the official website. ‘We expect to receive it all. It will be the first step of demonstrating the degree to which this electoral campaign can be open,’ said Hulak.
Electoral strategy of the United Democratic Forces
On 25 June the United Democratic Forces held a press conference to present their electoral strategy. The heads of the Belarusian People’s Front party, the United Democratic Party and the Party of Communists Belarusian stated that candidates from their parties would take part in all stages of the election, but their candidacies would be revoked one day prior to the voting in the case representatives of democratic forces would not be admitted to calculation of votes.
Changes in the election districts
The territory of some of the election districts of Mahiliou oblast has been changed more than 50%. The greatest changes concern Krychau and Bykhau election districts. Former Kastsiukovichy election district has been completely divided between two neighboring election districts. Asipovichy election district is a new election district which has been established only this year.
The differences between the largest, Mahiliouska-Leninskaya election district #84 and the smallest, Babruiska-Leninskaya election district #78 are 14.5%.
Human rights under surveillance of tax organs. Campaign of state mass media on discrediting them
After human rights activists stated their intention to monitor the parliamentary election, the state mass media have started a campaign aimed at their discrediting. The first TV channel of the Belarusian TV showed a program about them. At the same time the Ministry of Tax and Dues sent the orders to provide the income and asset declarations to the first chairperson of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Tatsiana Protska, the vice-head of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Ales Bialiatski, the BHC member Zmitser Markusheuski, the human rights activist Valiantsin Stefanovich and members of their families.
Dismissal from job for intention to run at the election
Alexander Mekh, head of Kobryn organization of the Belarusian People’s Front Party and activist of the For Freedom movement intends to run at the election to the Chamber of Representaives in Kobryn election district. This is the reason why he has been fired from the position of an engineer at the Bureau of gas-main pipelines of Beltransgas Ltd.
On 4 June Ales was summonsed to the office of the enterprise director Uladzimir Halashka. There he had a talk with Halashka and the chair of the local KGB Andrei Basko. The activist was warned that he would be fired in the case he decided to run at the election.
Ales Mekh has worked at the enterprise for 14 years. His colleagues and have applied to the administration of the local branch of the enterprise and to the central office, asking not to fire Mekh. Nevertheless, on 30 June he was familiarized with the order for his dismissal and record of service was issued to him.
Arrest of observer of the United Civil Party at the Central Election Commission
On 28 June the political council of the United Civil Party ruled to direct its member Mikhail Pashkevich to the Central Election Commission. After the sitting of the council Pashkevich (who has been recently sentenced to 2 years of personal restraint without direction to open prison) went to the railway station where he had a meeting. There he was detained by the police.
On 30 June Ryta Shahrai, judge of Kastrychnitski district court of Minsk, sentenced him to 7 days of jail on charges in petty hooliganism – absurd, but quite traditional for public and political activists.
Repressions against participants of the election monitoring
On 26 January policemen and KGB officers detained the chairman of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Eduard Balanchuk near the office of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, where a council on election monitoring was to take place. Two reports were drawn up on the detainee: insubordination to legal demands of the police (Article 23.4 of the Administrative Code) and petty hooliganism (Article 17.1). The administrative case against Balanchuk was tried by the judge of Maskouski district court of Minsk Kharkevich. The court took the side of the law-enforcement agencies and ignored the witnesses from the side of the defendant. Balanchuk was sentenced to 10 days of arrest and fined 1 050 000 rubles (about 493 US dollars).
Interest of the international community to the electoral campaign in Belarus
On 21-22 June in Wroclaw (Poland) there was held a discussion On perspectives of culture and civil society in Belarus, dedicated to the upcoming parliamentary election and the further policy of the European Union towards Belarus.
One of its participants, Jacek Protasevicz, chairman of the Delegation of the European Parliament on relations with the Republic of Belarus, stated: ‘Now it will be quite hard to build a long-term policy in relations with Belarus. It’s worth waiting for the results of the election. The only thing we can demand now is fair elections.’
‘Human rights activists for free elections’