Weekly Analytical Report on Election Monitoring Results: July 30 – August 5
July 30 – August 5
- The period of candidates’ nomination continues from July 15th to August 13th. Initiative groups collect signatures during door-to-door and street picket activities.
- Some candidates and members of initiative groups experience pressure from the authorities. We have registered cases of state officials hindering the work of pro-democratic initiative groups, as well as usage of administrative resource to the benefit of pr-governmental candidates.
- Activists of Belarusian Christian Democracy held street pickets for the boycott of the election. According to the Election Code, the pickets might be interpreted as early campaigning.
- Political parties continue nominating candidates at extra-ordinary “election” congresses. State mass media do not report about nominated oppositional candidates, while congresses of the pro-governmental parties are covered by state TV channels.
- Entities could nominate their representatives to 6, 349 precinct election commissions until August 5th. The commissions will be formed by August 8th. Activity of the oppositional political parties in this sphere remained on the same level as during the previous elections.
- Ruling of the Central Election Commission # 42 determining the documents valid for receiving ballot papers might create possibilities for illegal manipulations with ballot papers.
Collection of Signatures in Support of Candidate Nomination
Signature collection in support of candidate nomination continues. Some candidates experience pressure from the authorities. In a number of places activists collecting signatures for pro-democratic candidates are not allowed to enter dormitories. Administration of dormitories belonging to “Zenit” plant in Mahiliou refers to the order of the plant’s deputy director for ideology Mikalai Mikhalenia. On July 31st Aliaksei Paulouski was collecting signatures in support of Leanid Padbiaretski when he was detained by police and taken to the local police station for “clarification of the circumstances”. At the same time, supervisor of “Zenit” dormitory at Kedravaya Street 11 collects signatures for the pro-governmental candidate, incumbent MP Uladzimir Vasilenka.
On July 30th the potential candidate at Kupalauskaya district # 95 (Minsk), activist of the Tell the Truth campaign Mikhail Pashkevich was accused of violating the Election Code. He was accused of early campaigning by the text of his biography and the symbols of the Tell the Truth campaign he was using. Later the district election commission informed Pashkevich that they had not found any violations in the activities of his initiative group.
Observers report about numerous facts of using the administrative resource for candidate nomination. Working collective of Baranavichy machine-building plant nominated city councilor Volha Palityka for candidacy at Baranavichy-Zakhodniaya district #5. In several days she was also nominated by the working collective of Baranavichy auto-assembly plant. Administration of both plants organizes signature collection for Volha Palityka during working hours.
At military bases of Brest contract soldiers were forced to put their signatures in support of nomination of Uladzimir Bazanau, chief enlistment officer of Brest regional military commissariat.
Administration of “Slutskmezhraygaz” enterprise organized nomination of the incumbent MP Inesa Kliashchuk. Employees put their signatures under supervision of the HR director on the signature papers, prepared in advance, as their addresses and passport data had already been filled in.
Pressure on Election Observers
In Baranavichy the authorities fabricated an administrative case under Article 17.1 (disorderly conduct) against human rights defender and election observer Siarhei Housha. Tatsiana Latyshava, chair of Baranavichy-Zakhodniaya district election commission, reported to the police that he had seriously insulted her and other members of the commission. The observer provided the audio-recording of the commission’s meeting to the police as a proof of his innocence. However, the police did not take the recording into account. Siarhei Housha believes, he is being pressurized because he of his participation in the election observation campaign.
On August 2 in Rasony (Vitebsk region) the police seized the promotion materials (stationery, bags, T-shirts) of the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign. The materials were prepared for long-term observers, journalists, and lawyers of the campaign.
Pickets for Boycott
Belarusian Christian Democracy activists held pickets for the boycott of the election in Minsk. On July 31st, Maryna Khomich, BCD activist who registered an initiative group in support of her nomination as a candidate, held a picket in the center of Minsk. On her information stands she put information about the political prisoners and slogans “There are no elections!” and “Don’t go to the polls – you’ll be cheated!” Dzianis Sadouski, executive secretary of BCD, reports the picket activists did not collect signatures in support of Maryna Khomich. On the opposite, they collected signatures for releasing political prisoners and advocated for the boycott of the parliamentary election. The police warned Maryna Khomich that her slogans are not election slogans, while the picket should be organized under the law “About Mass Events”.
Really, according to the Belarusian legislation, pickets in support of boycott might be interpreted as early campaigning. Initiative groups are entitled to hold pickets only for collecting signatures for their candidate and informing the voters about him or her. Pickets with other purposes should be permitted by Minsk city executive commission, under the Law “About Mass Events”. It’s worth mentioning that the authorities are being quite tolerant about such violations. They are obviously interested in having many candidates even if the initiative groups advocate the election boycott.
Candidate Nomination by Political Parties
Political parties continue nominating their candidates. State mss media do not report about candidates nominated by the political parties in opposition. At the same time, congresses of the pro-governmental political parties are covered by state TV channels.
On July 28th the United Civil Party held an extra-ordinary “election” congress and nominated 57 candidates. The list is headed by the party leader Anatol Liabedzka, deputy chairman Leu Marholin, former head of the National Bank Stanislau Bahdankevich, former Defense Minister Pavel Kazlouski, and former Agriculture Minister Vasil Liavonau. On August 4th the extra-ordinary congress of the BPF Party nominated 38 candidates, including the party leader Aliaksei Yanukevich and former presidential candidate Ryhor Kastusiou. On August 5th the Belarusian Left Party “Fair World” nominated 36 candidates. The congress of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) is planned for August 12th.
On July 7th the congress of Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus nominated 110 candidates. On August 1st the pro-governmental Communist Party of Belarus nominated 30 candidates. On August 4th the Republican Party of Labor and Justice nominated 19 candidates for the parliament. According to chairman of the Belarusian Social Sports Party Uladzimir Aleksandrovich, they plan to nominate 3 candidates.
Nomination of Representatives to Precinct Election Commissions
Nomination of representatives to precinct election commissions continues until August 5th. Decisions about membership in the precinct commissions will be made by the local executive bodies by August 8th. The Belarusian Left Party “Fair World” says they have nominated 238 members to precinct election commissions. Minsk branch of the BPF Party and BPF “Adradzhennie” say they have nominated about 80 people. Belarusians living in the United States also promise to be active during the parliamentary election. Two BPF representatives are nominated to the precinct election commission located in New York. Members of the unregistered Belarusian Christian Democracy are nominated by signature collection.
Pro-governmental parties claim significantly higher numbers of their representatives nominated to precinct election commissions. Republican Party of Labor and Justice reports about 1, 200 representatives nominated to precinct commissions. Belarusian Social Sports Party claims nomination of 280 people.
Complaints and Other Appeals
During this period the lawyers of the “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” campaign filed 34 appeals, including 15 to district election commissions, 9 – to the bodies of local self-governance, 4 – to prosecutor’s office, and 3—to courts. Most complaints are about early campaigning, lack of possibilities for signature collection and usage of administrative resource.
From the beginning of the campaign the activists filed more than 200 appeals, including 63 complaints to courts, 53 – to district and Central election commissions, and 28 – to the local authorities.
Altogether, starting with announcement of the election on June 18th up to July 25th the Central Election Commission received 55 appeals, which is 20% higher than during the previous parliamentary election of 2008. The number of appeals asking to explain the norms of legislation grew from 3 in 2008 to 13 this year. Most likely, the reason is the amended Election Code used during this election. The number of complains about denied registration to initiative groups dropped from 11 to 2.
Change of Procedure of Issuing Ballot Papers to Voters
The CEC Ruling passed on July 27th significantly widened the list of documents that are valid as an ID for receiving a ballot paper and participating in the election. According to the Ruling, besides the passport of a citizen of the Republic of Belarus, a voter can show: a military service record card (for army conscripts); a card of a state official; driver’s license; pension card and student card (if there is a photo there); and a certificate issued by the bodies of internal affairs (for citizens who lost passport).
Voters’ lists are compiled by bodies of executive power in a way which is not transparent and not open for the observers. Every citizen has the right to check their name on the list, but has no access to the whole list of voters. Thus, giving out ballot papers on the basis of documents that do not contain information about citizenship and place of residence might create conditions for illegal manipulation.
 Article 45.1 allows collecting signatures for nomination of a person proposed as a candidate at street pickets held at places which are not prohibited by the local authorities. During signature collection members of initiative groups are allowed to inform voters about biographies of their candidates and are not allowed to distribute any kind of campaigning materials. According to Article 45 of the Election Code, official campaigning begins when the appropriate district election commission registers a person as a candidate. All other mass events should take place in accordance with the Law “About Mass Events”. Campaigning for the boycott of the election is a kind of election campaigning, which is to start when candidates get their official registration. Earlier campaigning, including campaigning for boycotting the election, can be assessed as early campaigning.
documents, on the basis of which a ballot paper for voting at the election of members
of the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of
Belarus of the fifth convocation is issued: Ruling of the Central Election
Commission #42 of July 27th, 2012.