Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections: vague regulations for storing ballots during early voting are of extreme concern
On 19 December, the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections observation campaign held a press-conference, summarizing the results of the early voting stage of the Presidential election. Chair of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak and deputy chair of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich believe the overall election procedures are extremely unreliable. Aleh Hulak admitted there have been positive steps towards democracy, namely the traditional preventive detentions ahead of the polling day were not so massive, as compared to the previous political campaigns. Valiantsin Stefanovich stresses the vague regulations for storing ballots during early voting are of extreme concern, resulting in various treatments of election legislation. Mr. Stefanovich also said that the numerous facts of coercion to early voting have been actually admitted by the Central Election Commission. “We have witnessed a boost in the scale of coercion to early voting at state-owned enterprises, especially in minor towns,” said the human rights activist. Aleh Hulak expressed his deep concern over the restrictions used against independent observers. According to him, observers encountered numerous obstacles in obtaining information on the amount of voters casting their ballots. There were a number of cases when observers received warnings for appealing election violations. “Still, the main problem is not polling stations, but the overall attitude towards the election,” says Mr. Hulak.