Courts turn down complaints against violations during formation of territorial election commissions
The Barysau District Court considered the complaint of the Barysau district organization of the United Civil Party against the non-inclusion of the UCP representative Rehina Viltouskaya in the Barysau Town Election commission. The court sitting lasted for three hours. The complaint was turned down.
The trial was attended by the democratic activist Aleh Matskevich Matskevich, Regina Viltouskaya, Maryna Statkevich (who had attended the sitting of the presidium of the Council of Deputies and the Barysau District Executive Committee at which the commission had been formed). The state agencies that were responsible for the formation of the commission were represented by the chief specialist of the Barysau District Executive Committee who hadn’t participated in the formation of the commission.
The court sitting had many interesting moments. The judge of the Barysau District Court Natallia Kheravets spent 90 minutes finding out what kind of party the UCP was and whether it possessed the state registration. She even phoned to the Ministry of Justice. The plaintiffs had to spend all this time in the corridor of the court.
The representative of the legal department of the District Executive Committee (whose last name was pronounced incomprehensively and wasn’t repeated) started her speech with assurances that the formation of the TEC was transparent and democratic. However, she was unable to answer the question of the opponents when and where the candidacies of the commission members were discussed. Instead of it, she explained to the court that the candidates were chosen depending on their life experience and organizational skills. However, Rehina Viltouskaya worked at the large Barysau plant Ekran for 12 years, but wasn’t included in the commission, whereas pensioner Auhustsinavich was included. The representative of the executive committee couldn’t provide a convincing explanation of this fact.
Predictably enough, the court turned down the complaint because the court didn’t allegedly didn’t see any electoral violations in the actions of the presidium of the council of deputies and the district executive committee.
On 1 October the court of Baranavichy and the Baranavichy district considered the complaint of the Belarusian Leftist party Fair World against the non-inclusion of its member Viktar Tsiapin in the Baranavichy Town Territorial Election Commission.
The case was considered by Judge Piatro Makadai. The Baranavichy Town Executive Committee was represented by the head of organizational-personnel department Volha Dudko and the lawyer Aleh Yauseyeu.
Viktar Tsiapin stated that the criteria for selection of representatives of parties and public organizations to the composition of election commissions remained unknown. It is unclear why Mikalai Bahdanau, a representative of the pro-governmental Communist Party of Belarus, was included in the commission (and became the only partisan member there), whereas Mr. Tsiapin was not. The plaintiff added that such ‘public organizations’ as Belaya Rus, the Belarusian Republican Youth Union and the veterans’ unions function as subdivisions of executive committees, because the state provides them with the offices and pays the wages to their officers.
The party member explained that political parties are established for participation in the political life of the country whereas public organizations (that have the largest representation in the Baranavichy Town Executive Committee) have other tasks. He said that presidential elections – are the most important political events and the priority in them belongs to political parties, not NGOs. That’s why he asked the court to find the decision is the most important political event in the life of the country and here, alleged Victor Tyapin, priority belongs to political parties. So he asked pryznts decision City Council and the Presidium of the City Council dated September 28, illegal, and include him in the city election commission.
As a result of the court debates the court dismissed Tsiapin’s claims as groundless and ruled that the decision of executive committee and presidium of the town council was legitimate.
On 1 October Judge of the Orsha District Court Natallia Tsiumentsava considered the claim of the Orsha town organization of the Belarusian Leftist Party Fair World to find the formation of the Orsha Town Territorial Election commission unlawful. The plaintiffs state that the commission was composed without discussion of the candidacies and the interested parties weren’t informed about the date and place of the joint sitting of the Orsha Town Executive Committee and the Presidium of the Orsha Town Council at which the commission was formed.
The head of the organizational department of the Orsha City Executive Committee Viktar Kalachou was evidently unprepared for the hearing – he was unable to provide the minutes of the sitting at which the commission had been formed and a document confirming his powers to represent the interests of the executive committee at court.
Testimonies were given by officers of the executive committee and members of the Presidium of the town council, and were rather controversial. It was found out that the candidacies of the persons who were nominated for membership in the commission weren’t discussed at the joint sitting of the two state organs as they had held separate sittings before it and the results of their discussion mysteriously coincided.
The witness Anatol Zuliou, a member of the Presidium of the town council, assured the court that the joint sitting had been held after 2 p.m. and the candidacies hadn’t been discussed at it, whereas the Presidium held its separate sitting somewhat earlier, at 10 a.m. Another member of the Presidium, Vital Vasiukou, insisted that the sitting of the Presidium was held at 12 a.m. – 1 p.m. and the candidacies were discussed the joint sitting. The officer of the executive committee Iryna Makarava contradicted to both of them – she alleged that the joint sitting started at 1.30 p.m.
The Court found these testimonies logical and consistent, and dismissed the complaint. In the court verdict it is also stated that the preliminary sittings aren’t banned by the law.
It turns out that all parties involved agreed that the joint sitting of the executive committee and the Presidium of the town council was a mere formality.
Judge Alena Dziameshchanka issued a similar verdict concerning the complaint of the Orsha regional organization of the Fair World against the formation of the Orsha District Election Commission.
Aliaksandr Dzerhachou complained against the results of the formation of the Smarhon District Election Commission. However, the court dismissed his complaints at the second hearing.
The member of the Belarusian Popular Front Ales Dzerhachou was nominated to the election commission by collecting signatures of electors. The people who signed in his support, prepared addressed the court with a note in which they asked the judge to take into account that the citizen whose candidacy they proposed would make everything possible to prevent election fraud.
However, the commission was composed of representatives of the district vertical, state institutions and pro-governmental public organizations. The candidacy of Mr. Dzerhachou wasn’t discussed at the sitting at which the election commission was formed.
’The failure to include opposition representatives to election commissions Smorgon district since 2004 can be regarded as a manifestation of discrimination based on political views, which is prohibited by the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,’ - said Aliaksandr Dzerhachou.
The first court session was held in a non-working day, Saturday 2 October. The trial was postponed to Monday, 4 October, for unknown reasons.
At the trial, Aliaksandr Dzerhachou said about the numerous violations in the procedures of decision-making at the joint sitting of the executive committee and the Presidium of the district council on formation of the electoral commission. He also pointed at some irregularities in the conduct of the trial itself, including the invalidity of the power of attorney according to which the lawyer of the district executive committee represented the interests of the Presidium of the district council. However, the judge declined all pretensions and ruled that no procedures and laws had been violated during the formation of the Smarhon district Election Commission. The court's decision is final and not without appeal.
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