Belarusian human rights defender: “Ukraine had true elections”
Leanid Markhotka, a human rights activist representing the Belarusian Helsinki Committee in the town of Salihorsk, participated in monitoring the presidential election in Ukraine. Upon returning home, the observer described the difference between the Belarusian and Ukrainian elections.
“I was delegated to the mission of the European Network of Election Monitoring (ENEMO) by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee. I had to carry out observation in the Mykolaiv oblast. This is the notorious Ukrainian East. There are many roadblocks there with armored vehicles and even tanks,” says Leanid Markhotka. “Despite the tense situation in the region, I can responsibly say that Ukraine had true elections, unlike Belarus, where for many years instead of elections we have had their imitation.”
The observer mentioned the most fundamental differences between the Ukrainian electoral system and the Belarusian elections.
“First of all, according to the Ukrainian electoral legislation, elections are held in one day. There is no early voting there. If you are not in your native place on election day, then it is necessary to take an advance absentee ballot, which will help you vote elsewhere on the main election day. In Belarus, as we know, early voting not only exists, but regularly gives a 30% voluntary-compulsory turnout and a corresponding opportunity for electoral fraud,” says the human rights activist. “The second important point is the composition of electoral commissions. Ukraine has a legislated quota of one representative of each candidate in the election commission of each level. In Belarus, commissions are de facto formed exclusively by the authorities, and opposition representatives, with very few exceptions, are not tolerated.”
According to Leanid Markhotka, all ballot boxes in Ukraine are transparent and sealed with special numbered plastic seals of increased protection. Belarusian boxes are not transparent and are usually not even sealed with wax and clay, but with ordinary plasticine. With regard to observers’ rights, here Ukrainian electoral system is far ahead in Belarus. Independent observers in Belarus permanently face obstacles in their work, especially during the vote count. Any attempt to verify the correctness of calculations can result in loss of accreditation. The Ukrainian electoral system gives observers a real opportunity to see each ballot and thus control the counting of votes.