Zhlobin: elections are neither free, nor democratic

2008 2008-10-01T22:49:06+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Elections in Zhlobin constituency, like in the whole country, were not democratic and free, local independent authorities concluded.

Candidates didn’t have equal conditions, vote count wasn’t transparent. According to observers, the Election Code of the republic of Belarus was violated, the campaign Human Rights Activists for Free Elections reports.

Two candidates, pro-governmental Uladzimir Batan, and Valer Rynchanka, member of the Party of Communists of Belarus, were running in the Zhlobin constituency.

‘Only 3 out of 22 proposed representatives of the democratic forces were included in election commissions. Candidates didn’t have equal conditions during the agitation campaign. The pro-governmental candidate organized meetings with electorate at enterprises, while the other candidate didn’t have such an opportunity,’ said Marat Afanasyieu, member of the United Civil Party, observer in the Zhlobin district election commission.

He notes that people were made to vote early. For example, an appropriate letter was sent to the Belarusian Metallurgic Plant. Why did the authorities want as many people as possible to vote early?

‘We have ground to suppose that ballot boxes for early voting were opened, and ballots were replaced. Photos from 11 polling stations show that seals at ballots boxes were changed. Observers of 8 polling stations sent complaints to a prosecutor’s office,’ M.Afanasyieu said.

About 6.000 invalid ballots were founded in the Zhlobin constituency. As observers thin, this amount can be explained by the fact that the ballots were spoilt purposefully to hide falsifications.

‘Ballot boxes for home voting contained more ballots than the main box at polling station #14, ‘M. Afanasyieu noted. ‘According to the Election Code, ballots from home voting boxes and main election day must be counted separately. But many polling station commissions mixed the ballots. Falsification may be hidden in such a way.’

At 10.30 pm on 28 September administration of the district election commission said the commission stopped its work till 11.00 am the next day. But observers saw from the street the lights weren’t turned off in the rooms.

‘Something secret was probably happening there. The Central Election Commission said elections results, including the Zhlobin constituency. On September 29, when observers came to the Zhlobin commission, they were shown a final report on voting results in the constituency,’ M. Afanasyieu said.