Opposition candidate unable to overcome censorship of his campaigning materials by printing house
Vitsebsk independent candidate Aliaksei Haurutsikau cannot exercise his right to print campaign materials in the state-owned newspaper isued in the town of Dubrouna, due to the refusal of its chief editor. The Central Election Commission supported the position of the editor.
Editor of “Dniaprouskaya Prauda” Sviatlana Shurpakova stated that the candidate's program contained "hidden call to change the constitutional order and the state regime", that's why the campaign materials would not be printed.
"Each candidate is entitled to use the election fund for his/her campaign and print campaign materials in the state media. It is my right, and no editors can make any censorship here. Moreover, the editorial office had seen the text before the publication. I also voiced it during my radio speech, and didn't receive any objections. That's why I appealed the actions of Sviatlana Shurpakova to the prosecutor's office and the Central Election Commission," said the candidate.
The CEC has given an answer, according to which candidates have the right to publish their materials, but state media also have the right to refuse from their publication.
"I was told that according to the law on mass media no one can make the edition publish the rejected materials, and the electoral law regulates only the monetary relationship between the candidate and the media. So, my right to publication is crossed by the right of the edition not to publish anything, even without giving any reasoning,” commented Mr. Haurutsikau. "This reminds me of the situation with mass events in Vitsebsk. All supposedly have the right to organize and carry them, but the Vitsebsk City Executive Committee demanded that service contracts with the police, ambulance and public utilities be attached to the applications for the mass events, whereas these bodies refuse to enter into such agreements and noone can force them to do it.
Here, we have the same situation: we have teh right to hold pickets or rallies, but the responsible officials have the right to refuse from signing any contracts with us. As a result, the opposition activists of Vitsebsk didn't manage to hold any outdoor events in the four past years.”
"Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections"