More election related trials in regions
On 8 November the Leninski District Court of Mahiliou considered three cases concerning the non-inclusion of opposition members in precinct election commissions. The democrats' lawsuits were turned down in all three cases. The court declared that the decisions concerning the formation of the precinct election commissions were lawful and met the criteria according to which people had been included in them. The court verdicts are without appeal.
The human rights defender Barys Bukhel notes that the court verdicts are almost identical.
’The court didn’t grant our inquiry for presenting us the documents concerning the nomination of members to the election commission (which includes the minutes of the nomination and information about their places of work, the occupied positions and the date of birth. The personal information was necessary to show the court that almost all members of the commission belonged to the state vertical. In fact, the court deprived us of the means for proving our arguments and violated our right to fair trial by dismissing my motion. Thus, it was impossible to prove or disprove our suspicions. The court also refused to call a witness, which is another violation of the court proceedings,’ said the human rights defender.
The non-inclusion of opposition representatives in the PECs was motivated mainly by the lack of experience of work in the commissions of such a kind and by the age of some applicants.
’I learned that one of the members of a commission was just 18 years old and asked a rhetorical question of the court, if she had a sufficient experience of work in the commission. Moreover, I noted that the commission consisted of supporters of one candidate – Aliaksandr Lukashenka, and there were no objective reasons not to include the oppositionists, as three more persons could have been included before reaching the legally established limit of members,’ commented Mr. Bukhel.
Bear in mind that the NGO BFP Adradzhenne appealed the non-inclusion of 30 representatives, the Belarusian Leftist Party Fair World – 19 representatives, and the Mahiliou Human Rights Center – 8 representatives.
Pavel Levinau had been nominated to PEC #35 in Vitsebsk by about 150 residents of Vitsebsk, but hadn’t been included in it. His lawsuit against the non-inclusion in the PEC was considered by Judge of the Pershamaiski District Court of Vitsebsk Volha Illiushonak. Though the trial lasted as long as about 8 hours, the judge too the side of the state authorities.
The court studied evidence, including the recording that had been made during the formation of the precinct commission. The plaintiffs tried to prove that the PECs had been formed without any discussion of the candidacies of the people who had been nominated to them. The court ignored this argument and declared that the formation of the commissions was completely lawful.
Moreover, Mr. Levinau discovered a number of violations of the electoral legislation. In particular, some electors signed in support of the nomination of another candidate, A.Markouski, after putting signatures in his support. This is prohibited by the law and the signatures for A.Markouski were to have been annulled. In this case A.Markouski wouldn’t have been included in the PEC as he would have less than 10 signatures for his nomination. Mr. Levinau pointed also at the incorrect information and mistakes in the documents of the people who had been nominated to the commission.
In the course of the trial Pavel also entered repeated motions for challenge of the judge and the prosecutor, S.Biadrevich, telling they had some personal interest in this case. However, the motions weren’t granted.
Now the human rights defender is preparing an appeal to the procuracy.
The Zhlobin District Court turned down claims of opposition representatives against the results of the formation of PECs by the Zhlobin District Executive Committee.
The oppositionists complained about the inclusion in the PECs of just 4 of their representatives. The Chairperson of the Zhlobin district organization of the Belarusian Leftist Party Fair World Valery Rybchanka said that the candidacies hadn’t been discussed during the sitting of the executive committee. The present representative of the executive committee explained that ‘candidacies were discussed in different offices before the sitting’.
Mr. Rybchanka also reminded the court that the Zhlobin District Executive Committee (DEC) established 69 precinct election commissions in just about 11 minutes. The authorities included in the PECs about 20% of nominees of the Fair World and as much as 92% representatives of such pro-governmental structures as Belaya Rus or the Belarusian Republican Youth Union. However, the Chairperson of the organizational and personnel department of the Zhlobin DEC Siarhei Marukovich argued that the latter organizations united many hundreds of people.
S.Marukovich also claimed that V.Rybchanka intentionally thwarted the work of the executive committee by drawing its officers to trials and stated that the executive committee was responsible for such great work as the organization of the work of the precinct election commissions, the holding of their sittings and the composition of their minutes (meanwhile, the Electoral Code doesn’t give such powers to the authorities and considers such ‘organization’ as a violation). The official also explained the refusal to include in a commission the member of the Fair World Inesa Tubalets by saying that she had created a conflict situation during the previous election by voting against a decision of the commission and demanded that her personal opinion was put down in the minutes of the sitting.
Judge Sviatlana Rubakhava also dismissed Rybchanka’s motion for summoning to the trial the workers of the executive committee who had formed the election commissions and studying the documents concerning their formation (though the present prosecutors V.Nikitsina and S.Andreyeva stated there were no reasons to decline these motions).
The court also dismissed the lawsuits of Piatro Ausiannikau and Yauhen Basareuski who had bee nominated to PECs by collecting electors’ signatures, but hadn’t been included in them. Judge Alena Yarmolchyk explained that the lawsuits must be filed not by the nominees, but by the electors who had nominated them. Ausiannikau and Basareuski disagree with such provision of the Electoral Code, as the legal term for appealing is just three days and it is hard to collect the signatures of all electors for such a short time.
Judge Lidziya Papeka refused to consider the lawsuit of the Homel regional organization of the United Civil Party against the non-inclusion of its representatives in the Zhlobin PEC, because the lawsuit was signed not by the Chairperson of the Homel organization, but by his deputy in Zhlobin.
Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections