Past week of the electoral campaign: events and generalizations

2008 2008-08-08T20:59:21+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The campaign on election to the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus (to the lower chamber of the parliament) is in its prime. After the initiative groups were registered the collection of signatures for registration of candidacies has started.

The pro-governmental candidates on one side and representatives of oppositional parties and independent candidates have so different conditions for their activities that the only thing left is to ‘seek differences’…

The efforts necessary to put one’s signature for a pro-governmental candidate are minimal: one should call his/her name and surname (even without presenting any passport data, which would be later obtain from passport offices) or take one’s passport to work and put a signature in the working time… The initiative groups of other candidates face intimidation, disinformation of electors and other obstacles…

Hidden agitation in pages of state press

The agitation state has not started yet, but election observers have already registered cases of early agitation in Horki, Homel, Mahiliou, Orhsa, Baranavichy, Babruisk and other towns and cities of Belarus. Most often such cases are registered in the state press, whose publications contain evident elements of agitation: biographical information, working achievements, achievements in administrative organs and even electoral promises.

In particular, the regional newspaper Homelskiya Vedamastsi for 2 August (#86) features an interview with Alexander Shauko, deputy at the Chamber of Representatives from Homel central electoral district #33 who intends to run at this electoral district again this year. Mr. Shauko states: ‘I will still foster the establishment of normal, modern and civilized conditions for human life (…). These are real deeds and project the realization of which I will foster. He declares his position, indirectly applying to the target audience, the people of pre-pension age. ‘Only in the case of stable work of enterprises it is possible to develop medicine and education, build new accommodations… guarantee the payment of financial aid and pensions which provide a peaceful old age to out people. That’s what I have stood and will stand for at the Parliament,’ states the deputy.

The state press also publishes appraisals of anonymous readers. For instance, in Baranavichy the state newspaper Nash Krai, issue #91 for 5 August 2008 published such a material about the work of the deputy of Anatol Vankovich.

At the same time, on 6 August in Hrodna the police confiscated six sheaves of the last issue of the non-state newspaper Narodnaya Volia from the activists of the United Civil Party who were collecting signatures in support of the candidacy of Yaraslau Ramanchuk. The editorial board of Narodnaya Volia states that there were no agitation materials for any candidates in the confiscated issue.

Signatures without passport data are collected for pro-governmental candidates

The collection of signatures for the candidacy of the now deputy of the Parliament Tatsiana Asmalouskaya at Horki electoral district #81 is conducted with law violations. According to workers of Horki district executive committee, their signatures for her were taken in the working time without their passport data being checked.

The members of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) who collected signatures for a pro-governmental candidate at Hrodna northern electoral district #51 did not ask for passports either. Saying one’s name and surname was enough for them.

Forcing to sign

At some enterprises workers are made to come to work with passport and put their signatures in support of pro-governmental candidates. Such cases were registered in Minsk and Salihorsk.

Is Salihorsk the workers of the Shakhtaspetsstroy trust were ordered to take their passports to work so that their signatures for the candidacy of Yauhen Abalenski could be collected. Yauhen Abalenski is a deputy of Minsk oblast Soviet of deputies. His initiative group was registered by district electoral commission #75. The worker of Belaruskaliy Alexander Boyka said also that his boss collected signatures for Abalenski in the working time as well. According to the worker of kindergarten #31 Natallia Pratasenia, signatures for this official were also collected in this and other kindergartens.

In Minsk the workers of the Integral enterprise were ordered to come to work with their passports and sign in support for the candidacy of the director general, Aliaksei Kazlou. Kazlou has already got his initiative group registered and now is going to be registered as a candidate to the Chamber of Representatives from electoral district #97 by collection of citizens’ signatures.

In the town of Haradok workers of certain enterprises had their passports taken away for a week, so that they could not sign for a democratic candidate. It was done on the eve of the visit of Alexander Milinkevich to Vitsebsk and Haradok on 6 August. There the politician participated in the work of the initiative groups of the democratic activists who intend to run for a seat at the Chamber of Representatives.

Pressurization of independent and democratic candidates

The people who state their intention to run for parliament are dismissed from work or are threatened with dismissal.

A local police inspector Andrei Levinau is persecuted for his intention to run for parliament at Vitsebsk Chyhunachnaya electoral district #19. The police administration of Vitsebsk oblast decided to nip this unauthorized activity in the bud. After the threats and proposals to retire from the police which were voiced by the head of Chyhunachny district police department, lieutentant-colonel Blazhevich, the procurator of Vitsebsk oblast, 1 degree justice advisor Dysko initiated a disciplinary case against Levinau. Judging by large-scale haunting of police captain Levinau, he will have to continue his participation in the electoral campaign as ex-policeman.

In Babruisk an activist of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) Taisiya Kabanchuk was fired from the position of the storekeeper at Babruisk store of Baranavichy poultry factory. Taisiya Kabanchuk is a potential candidate to the Chamber of Representatives.

Pressurization of members of initiative groups

In Navapolatsk electoral district #25 two members of the initiative group of the member of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party Ihar Valiayeu were forced to refuse from their membership in the group by pressurization at work. Other members of this initiative group were photographed by the police when going out of a house where they had been collecting signatures. Then the policemen quickly got into their car and drove away without offering any explanations.

Pressurization of electors

In all parts of the country members of the initiative groups of the pro-governmental candidates deceive electors by informing them that they had the right to sign only for one candidacy. In particular, such a situation was registered in Vitsebsk Horki electoral district #11 by the candidate Tatsiana Seviarynets.

A similar case was registered in Navapolatsk. While collecting signatures for a pro-governmental candidate I.Antonava the members of her initiative group told electors that they had no right to sign for other candidates after signing for her.

Financial police disturbs candidates and their families

The majority of oppositional candidates had to visit the committee of financial investigations. Then their relatives (parents, spouses and children) started to be summonsed there. The financial police demand from all of them income and tax declarations.

In particular, in Mahiliou the financial police sent summons to the candidates Yury Novikau, Uladzimir Novikau, Alexander Irkho, Ihar Kavalenka, Mikalai Rasiuk and their relatives. An income declaration was demanded even from the 89-year-old mother of the head of Mahiliou oblast organization of the United Civil Party Uladzimir Shantsau.

Members of oppositional parties are still interrogated in the ‘Minsk blast’ case

When Alexander Chorny, the first secretary of Kobryn town committee of the Party of Communists of Belarusian, signed out of the hospital he was visited by police officers who brought a ‘questioning blank’ with them.

Being asked why they chose him, the policemen answered that they had been given a list of persons in Kobryn town executive committee and told that the persons who were included in it participated in meetings and pickets…. They put the word ‘picketer’ in the ‘status’ heading of the blank, took the activist’s fingerprints and saliva samples.

Similar visits were paid to 84-year-0ld member of the Belarusian Popular Front Party Yauhen Tsikhanovich, 82-year old BPF member Mikhail Minin and the deputy head of Kobryn town PCB committee Anatol Varankou. The latter refused to answer the ‘questioning list’. 73-year-old PCB member Stsiapan Hrechka was put in the ‘blast case’ as a suspect, because of his being a retired military sapper.

The interrogations of political activists are also continued in Hrodna oblast. Fingerprints were taken from a resident of Lida Uladzimir Krutsikau who collects signatures for the candidacy of a member of the Belarusian Popular Front Party Stanislau Sudnik.

Human rights activists for free elections