Election commission issued two warnings to Yury Karetnikau
On 2 March the Maskouski district election commission in Minsk issued two warnings to the leader of the Right Alliance Yury Karetnikau, an independent candidate. One of the warnings was issued for ‘untimely agitation of electors’ and the other – for printing of what the commission called ‘agitation materials’.
A week ago Mr. Karetnikau received a telephone call from Uladizmir Nadolski, Chairperson of the Maskouski district election commission. The official stated that the Central Election Commission received a complaint from electors of Karetnikau’s election constituency concerning early agitation for Karetnikau’s candidacy.
The Maskouski district election commission received a decision of the Central Election Commission signed by its Chairperson, Lidziya Yarmoshyna. The CEC asked the district commission to discriminate into the facts that were drawn in the complaint. The sitting of the commission on this matter was held only on 2 March, a week after the CEC decision was received. Yu.Karetnikau was familiarized only with the CEC decision, but wasn’t shown the text of the ‘citizens’ complaint’. The leader of the Right Alliance believes that the week’s delay can be a result of the long hesitation of the authorities what they should do with him.
’What concerns agitation materials: my opinion about the elections, the process violations during the calculation of votes and other issues was put down in a leaflet that was distributed by us all over the Maskouski district of Minsk,’ said the independent candidate. ‘However, it was done a week before the registration of my initiative group and doesn’t contradict to the law’.
Yury Karetnikau explained his actions by referring to a story that had happened to him during the previous elections to the local Soviets of Deputies at which he was running at the same constituency.
’Three years ago, in the run-up to the elections I saw workers of public utilities throw Vesnik Maskouskaya Rayona (the newspaper of the Maskouski district executive committee) in the postbox. The front page of this edition contained articles about pro-regime candidates. When I appealed against such actions, I received a written answer that distribution of such materials was legally allowed before the registration of initiatives groups. That’s why I decided to use this opportunity during the present elections,’ said Mr. Karetnikau.
He also brought the answer to the election commission, but was told that this case was outdated and his actions were unlawful in any case. As a result, Yury Karetnikau, was issued with two warnings – for early agitation and using his own means for production of agitation materials.
’I think that the real reason for these warnings is that my initiative group conducts an active work with the electorate’, pointed Karetnikau. ‘We have held about five social campaigns concerning such issues as car parking, the quality of the drinking water, etc. Besides, we used the ‘liberal’ novelties in the Election Code – we organized pickets for collection of signatures and put there bright ad boards that draw the electors’ attention. They authorities must have noticed our work as well and decided to ‘cut me down to size.’
If Yury Karetnikau receives the third warning, he can be excluded from the electoral race. However, he says he is ready to stop participating in the elections at any stage and will continue his activities even if he wouldn’t become a deputy.
Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections