Aleh Hulak: procedure of complaining is too tough
On 31 July the Central Electoral Commission of Belarus considered the complaints against the refusals to register the initiative groups on nomination of candidates by collection of signatures. The CEC considered in essence only three out of the ten complaints which had been filed to it.
The commission satisfied the complaint of Uladzimir Labtsevich (who had already run at the local elections in 2007). Labtsevich was not registered as a candidate because there was no information about his place of residence. Having considered this complaint, the CEC found that since 2004 the pretender regularly got registered at a dosshouse and regularly received a pension. The Central Electoral Commission reversed the ruling of the district election commission and pointed that absence of residence registration did not mean that the person lived abroad.
The CEC also satisfied the complaint of Alexander Bukhvostau. The district electoral commission warned him for early agitation (distribution of leaflets on behalf of United Democratic Forces). However, there was no evidence that Bukhvostau or members of his initiative group distributed such leaflets. That’s why the warning was annulled.
The third complaint was not satisfied. The initiative group of Valiantsina Dubrouskaya was not registered because she forgot to mention her place of residence in the filed documents.
Commenting on the CEC activities, the chairman of Belarusian Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak emphasizes that there have been created formal obstacles to complaining: ‘Today the CEC has considered in essence only three out of ten complaints, because the others were filed with violation of the procedure. However, the procedure is too hard. In particular, one can file a complaint only within three days after the appropriate ruling of a district electoral commission. For instance, if a commission issues its ruling in the evening and the person concerned receives the minutes in the morning, he/she must file a complain till evening next day. But it’s not that simple to prepare such a complaint, as one needs to collect the signatures of half of the initiative group’s members, who can be working at the time…’.
The CEC head Lidziya Yarmoshyna said that this order of filing the complaints was introduced in the Electoral Code by the CEC last year, with consideration of the previous experience of work.
The most frequent reason for complaints was the registration denial because of inclusion of persons in the initiative groups without their agreement. The district electoral commissions refused to register such initiative groups referring to Article 5 of the Electoral Code. The pretenders to candidates, whose initiative groups were not registered for this reason, state that it was the officials who pressurized members of their groups into reporting about their inclusion in the groups without their agreement. However, the CEC and the district electoral commissions ignored such statements of the candidates.