Babruisk: court refuses to exclude candidate from electoral race
On 9 April the Mahiliou regional court considered the lawsuit of Viachaslau Sheleh, a member of the Belarusian Christian Democracy concerning the non-registration of his candidacy for the Babruisk town Council of Deputies. Meanwhile, Mr. Sheleh was registered as a candidate for the Mahiliou regional council. The signature sheets in support of his candidacy are identical in the both cases. However, the Babruisk town election commissions had allegedly found some invalid signatures, whereas the Mahiliou regional election commission hadn't found any.
That's why Mr. Sheleh demanded from the court to exclude him from the electoral race as a candidate for the Mahiliou regional council of deputies, because he, being an honest man, couldn’t run for a deputy seat having invalid signatures in his signature sheets. The same request was also addressed to Mikalai Lazavik, the secretary of the Central Election Commission, with whom Viachaslau met in Minsk.
'Mikalai Lazavik explained the situation by saying that some officials were more loyal whereas some others had a more scrupulous approach, but refused to exclude my candidacy. He said that the Central Election Commission didn’t have such powers and advised me to wait for the court verdict,' says Viachaslau Sheleh.
At first the candidate applied to court with a complaint against the decision of the town election commission about his non-registration. However, after a collector of signatures told him in a private talk that there were some cases when people signed in his support on behalf of their relatives, he changed his mind. He agreed with the court that some of the signatures were invalid and asked to be withdrawn from the elections.
'I explained to the court that my conscience didn’t let me to take part in the elections as I have invalid signatures in my signature lists. I asked the judge whether it was normal if somebody takes part in the elections unlawfully. The court regards it as normal and refuses to take me off the elections. What a paradox!' says Mr. Sheleh.
Sviatlana Stalmakhova, didn't grant the plaintiff's request for finding some of the signatures in his support invalid, as it wasn't the subject of his lawsuit. The court also refused to take the candidate off the elections by its verdict.
'They wished me good luck at the court and told me to go and win,' continues Viachaslau Sheleh. 'And also pointed that from now on they will attentively watch my actions.'
Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections