Violations during collection of signatures for Lukashenka’s candidacy continue throughout Belarus
On 6 October a picket organized by the ‘state NGO’ Belaya Rus was held in front of the regional therapeutic and diagnostic center in Mahilou.
The picket participants were collecting signatures for nominating Aliaksandr Lukashenka as a presidential candidate.
‘I asked the participants of the picket to show their documents’, said the human rights defender Aliaksei Kolchyn. ‘One of them showed her passport and certificate of a member of Lukashenka’s electoral team. The other refused to show her documents, and then confessed that she wasn’t a member of the electoral team, but was just ‘helping’. However, she behaved as if she was in charge of the picket.
In several hours the nearby pickets of the electoral teams of Ryhor Kostuseu and Uladzimir Niakliayeu were approached by the police, who put down the passport data of the participants of the pickets and photographed them. Then they repeated this procedure with participants of Lukashenka’s picket.
The members of the electoral team of Uladzimir Niakliayeu told the police that one of the participants of the latter picket didn’t have the necessary documents. The policemen came to the picket, allegedly to verify the information, then returned and said that the women had all the necessary documents.
On Monday the medical administration of Homel reminded the heads of hospitals and clinics about the beginning of the collection of signatures and recommended to activate and optimize this process in the medical institutions.On 6 October workers of the children’s clinics that is located in Bahdanau Street came to collect signatures in favor of A. Lukashenka from their neighbors, workers of branch #8 of the city clinics. Everything was done quite quickly, because on Monday the workers of the branch had been told to bring their passport and gather at the assembly hall at 12 a.m.
It could seem that the law wasn’t violated by such actions, because the electoral legislation doesn’t prohibit collecting signatures in medical institutions. The only thing that disappoints human rights defenders is that such signatures are usually put by workers of state institutions and enterprises on order of their administration. Besides, according to the law the potential candidates and their electoral teams should have equal opportunities, whereas in practice everything is quite different, as it is far more convenient to collect signatures from several tens of people at once in an assembly hall than freeze outdoors waiting for the people who are eager to sign in support of a candidate.
The Babruisk human rights defenders learned that on 6 October the teachers f the secondary schools of Babruisk were gathered at the Pershamaiski District Executive Committee of Barysau. ‘I don’t know by which criteria they chose the teachers, but not all of us were invited there,’ said a teacher of secondary school #30. ‘We were told that each of us needed to collect 300 signatures in support of Lukashenka. Of course, it is unpleasant news, but we will have to do it not to lose our jobs.’
Pitifully enough, the woman doesn’t know who talked to them at the assembly, but said that it wasn’t an officer of the education department.
According to Viktar Buzinayeu, a member of the electoral team of Yaraslau Ramanchuk, the Babruisk workers complained to him that the ideologists of their enterprises warned them against signing in support of the nomination of oppositionists, saying they would watch all signature lists and the signers would face trouble at work.
Babruisk citizens tell members of the electoral teams how signatures in support of Lukashenka are collected at enterprises. In particular, the machine building plant named after Lenin must provide 700 signatures, Babruiskahramash – 200, the factory of rubber-technical articles – 1,500 and Belshyna – 7,000. This issue is controlled by the ideological officers of the plants.
On 5 October the Pinsk Town Executive Committee held a council with participation of the heads of large enterprises and state institutions of Pinsk. Officers of the executive committee insistently recommended to the present people to activate the collection of signatures in support of Aliaksandr Lukashenka among their employees.
Signatures for Lukashenka are also collected in the Brest kindergartens. The local kindergarteners tell about this, asking not to mention their names. They are obliged not only to sign in support of Lukashenka, but also to conduct ‘explanatory work’ among the parents. In particular, such things are practiced in kindergarten #28, where kindergarteners were ordered to collect at least 25 signatures from parents of each group of parents.
Collectors of signatures for Aliaksandr Lukashenka told the dwellers of the multi-stored houses in Berastseiskaya Street in Kamianets that after signing for Lukashenka they had no right to sign in support of nomination of any other candidate for the presidential position. The electors told about it to a member of the electoral team of the opposition candidate Uladzimir Niakliayeu, Aliaksei Koutun.
Mr. Koutun addressed the Chairperson of the Pruzhany Disdtrict Election Commission Viktar Hrytsuk with a complaint about violations of the Electoral Code by members of Lukashenka’s electoral team and asked him to warn them about the responsibility for such actions. However, the official stated he wouldn’t do it and advised Mr. Koutun to apply to court.
The Entrepreneur Aliaksei Taustyka called the police when his house was visited by collectors of signatures for Aliaksandr Lukashenka who didn't have the certificates of members of the electoral team with them. However, the police refused to detain them.
The administration and the kindergarteners of Polatsk kindergarten #24 asked the parents to bring their passports and sign in support of Aliaksandr Lukashenka. Some of the parents agreed to give their signatures, others refused.
The teachers who were included into Lukashenka’s electoral team without their consent are made to take several days of non-paid vacation so that they could more actively collect signatures.
Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections