Analytical report on the results of the weekly monitoring: July 23 – August 2

2015 2015-08-03T15:54:51+0300 2015-08-03T21:48:22+0300 en http://spring96.org/files/images/sources/zasvabodnyjavybarylogo-en.png The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Observation of the presidential elections of the Republic of Belarus is carried out by activists of "Belarusian Helsinki Committee" and the Human Rights Center "Viasna" in the framework of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections".

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS

1. July 23 there started the collection of signatures in support of the nomination of presidential candidates, which will last until August 21 inclusively. A candidate must collect 100,000 signatures for registration of his initiative group.
2. July 31, the CEC Chairman reported that more than 100000 signatures in support of the incumbent president had been passed to the territorial election commissions. In addition, Lidziya Yarmoshyna noted that only 500 signatures in support of the candidate Liabedzka had been passed to the TECs [1]. According to the headquarters of candidates, 55,000 signatures has been collected in support of S. Haidukevich, 22,000 in support of V. Tsiareshchanka,15,000 in support of T. Karatkevich, more than 10,000 in support of A. Liabedzka and more than 6,000 in support of S. Kaliakin [2]. The electoral team of M. Statkevich, which hasn't been registered, calls to boycott the elections.
3. Political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich, whose initiative group was not registered, calls on those who come to the polls to make records in their ballots, which would clearly show to the rejection of the policy of the ruling regime.
4. The members of the initiative groups of opposition candidates sometimes face certain obstacles in collecting signatures, but the problems are resolved after appeals to the election commissions and the government agencies.
5. Observers receive information about the use of administrative resources and the facts of pressure on voters to gather signatures for the nomination of the incumbent. Almost all such data are anonymous – people refuse to say so publicly.
6. The CEC has found no violations of the electoral legislation during collection of signatures.
7. The human rights situation, against the background of which the election campaign is taking place, is severe: authorities continue to exert pressure on freelance journalists, do not give permission to hold pickets to the citizens who want to express their protest. Central Election Commission refused to accept the measures proposed by human rights activists to increase the transparency of the electoral process.
8. Observers haven't faced significant obstacles in their work so far.
9. The pressurization of independent journalists continues.

The observers of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" note that signatures are increasingly being collected by visiting electors' apartments, the electoral teams are getting more active. The pro-government NGOs “Belarja Ruś” and Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) are active in Viciebsk, holding some ten electoral pickets a day, the public campaign "Tell the Truth" and the party "Fair World" hold two pickets a day. Other electoral teams don't hold such pickets. According to BRSM representatives in Viciebsk, they have collected about 3,000 signatures since August 1.

The situation in the field of observation is quiet, except for certain cases. On July 27 in Maladzečna, Valiantsina Tsishko, a member of the electoral team of Tatsiana Karatkevich, was briefly detained by police patrol and taken to Maladzečna District Police Department. After establishing her identity, the police offered their apologies. July 29 in Navapolack, there was a hooligan assault on a picket in support of Tatsiana Karatkevich. Appeals regarding the incident were filed to the police and Navapolack City Territorial Election Commission. August 1, unidentified people made two attempts to disrupt the collection of signatures in support ot T. Karatkevich during the City Day celebrations on Savieckaja Street.

As noted by observers, the initiative groups of candidates from the position are more active: they talk with the voters about their candidates and the situation in the country. Citizens behave quite passively, being reluctant to put their signatures, and sometimes openly admit that they are afraid to do it. The headquarters of opposition candidates disseminate information on the use of administrative resources in favor of the incumbent.

Observers in Kryčaŭ report that electoral pickets of the Communist Party of Belarus, "Bielaja Ruś" and BRMS in support of Lukashenka in the busiest places of the city were are ineffective. Local authorities ordered to collect signatures at enterprises and organizations. Employees of school № 5, Kryčaŭ State Vocational College of Agronomy and Kryčaŭ plant of rubber products were ordered to bring their passports and sign in support of Lukashenka. The same was done by the authorities of the local branch of "BelAZ" car plant, "Mahilioŭ Autoworks named after S.M. Kirov, Mahilioŭ Regional Medical and Diagnostic Center and others. Similar facts of administrative pressure are reported by observers from Maladzečna, Nesviž, Brest, Baranavičy. Citizens who have been forced to leave their signatures, don't declare the fact of coercion in public. A wide public response in the independent media had the collection of signatures organized by the administration of Brest Electromechanical Plant [3].

Quite eloquent is an article in the newspaper of Čavusy District Executive Committee "Iskra", which describes how the district authorities organized the work of the initiative group for nominating the incumbent president: "Presidential campaign-2015 has stated in In Čavusy district. Last Thursday, July 23, the district executive committee held a sitting presided by its deputy head Vital Lebiazdeu and Chairman of the District Council of Deputies Anatol Matsiulin. As a result, there was established an electoral team consisting of 30 people who will collect signatures in support of the candidacy of the incumbent President the Republic of Belarus Aliaksandr Lukashenka. Tamara Matsiulina was appointed its chairperson. Members of the initiative group are divided on the territorial basis, i.e. signatures will not be collected on the basis of organizations, institutions and enterprises. In addition, pickets are held in the city everyday, and one can also sign in support of the incumbent President at them" [4].

More and more information about the elections appears in the cities: billboards, banners, posters on the elections in Belarusian and Russian languages. A video on the right order of collecting signatures is regularly broadcast on TV.

The focus of many government publications is on A. Lukashenka. Back on July 24 the press service of the President reported that the President instructed the government to find a way of increasing pensions by 5% from 1 September. 30 July it was reported that the minimum size of the labor and social pensions and child benefits will increase from August 1.

July 27 the state-owned newspaper of Liozna district "Sciah Pieramohi" published an article "The collection of signatures for nomination of candidatures for President has started", which contains direct agitation for the election of Aliaksandr Lukashenka for the next term. July 31, newspaper "Zviazda" published an article about the political associations, participating in the elections, but the article is illustrated only by a photo of the incumbent. Local media and government websites just cover the work of the electoral teams of the president, giving no other information. For example, the site of Hrodna Regional Executive Committee within a week has provided information only about the pickets of the NGOs which collect signatures in support of Lukashenka. [5] The activities of the electoral teams are covered unevenly. In such circumstances, the information in favor of one candidate can be regarded as illegal campaigning.

TEC held their first sittings, during which their chairpersons and their deputies were elected. Members of the TECs don't interfere directly with the work of the observers, mainly show a correct attitude. In some cases, negative attitude was observed, too. According to an observer working in the Kastryčnicki district TEC in Minsk, members of the TEC are keeping to "scornfully polite form of communication". Observers of the Partyzanski district TEC blankly refused to inform an observer about the time of the future sittings.

On July 29, Viciebsk Regional Executive Committee held a seminar for the leadership of TECs of the region, at which the CEC secretary Mikalai Lazavik presented innovations of the current election campaign: it is planned to use transparent ballot boxes in Viciebsk region.

In some locations, in addition to representatives of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections", there are observers from "Bielaja Ruś", BRSM, "Belarusian Union of Women" and "Belarusian Red Cross Society". According to official figures, this year 188 national observers got accredited at the 153 TECs [6].

The authorities continue to exert pressure on freelance journalists. July 28, Hlybokaje District Court fined freelance journalist Tatsiana Smotkina 4.5 mln rubles under Art. 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Offenses. The pickets at which people intend to express their protest are still banned. Recently, Čyhunačny District Executive Committee of Viciebsk has banned a picket by members of the CCP BPF in the picket, whose purpose was to draw attention to the means of which members of the Conservative-Christian Party “Belarusian Popular Front” wanted to draw attention to violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms by the Belarusian authorities.

Representatives of well-known international monitoring network ENEMO have filed requests to the Central Election Commission, Presidential Administration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, seeking to be allowed to monitor the electoral process in Belarus. So far, an answer has been received only from the CEC.

[1] According to BelaPAN: see http://belapan.com/archive/2015/07/31/791804/.

[2] According to European Radio for Belarus: see http://euroradio.fm/ru/lukashenko-sobral-bolee-100-tysyach-podpisey.

[3] See http://brestspring.com/index.php?id=9692&page=1&rub=&year=2015.

[4] See http://www.chausynews.by/?p=10554#more-10554.

[5] See http://grodnorik.gov.by/ru/news.

[6] See http://belapan.com/archive/2015/07/31/791804.

"Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”

слухаць Радыё рацыя Міжнародная федэрацыя правоў чалавека Беларуская Інтэрнэт-Бібліятэка КАМУНІКАТ Грамадзкі вэб-архіў ВЫТОКІ Антидискриминационный центр АДЦ 'Мемориал' Prava-BY.info Беларускі Праўны Партал Межрегиональная правозащитная группа - Воронеж/Черноземье
Московская Хельсинкская группа
Молодежное Правозащитное Движение
amnesty international