Formation of election commissions in Mahilioŭ: fast, quiet, loyal members only

2015 2015-08-27T17:41:43+0300 2015-08-27T17:41:43+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The administrations of Mahilioŭ’s Lieninski and Kastryčnicki District Executive Committees formed yesterday the city’s precinct election commissions.

As a result, each commission included 15 people, though the maximum number of members is 19. None of the representatives of the opposition did not manage to become a commissioner.

Among the criteria for refusal the officials mentioned absence of a job, lack of experience of work in PECs, involvement in nomination teams, young or old age, previous administrative convictions, inaccuracies in the documents, double nominations from the same organization,” says local human rights activist Barys Bukhel, who attending the meeting of the executive committee in Kastryčnicki district.

The procedure was very fast, it was over in only 20 minutes. They just voted for the entire list at once, even without announcing any details on each commission. At the end of the meeting, the head of the administration, Mikhail Halushkou, asked whether any of the members of the administration had remarks, and since no one had any comments, it was immediately offered to vote. I had a list of candidates for the PEC members from the opposition parties and, therefore, raised my hand and asked permission to ask questions before voting, so that members of the administration could hear a dissenting opinion. However, the chairman told me that I was not employed at the administration, and therefore he would not allow me to ask questions.

At the same time, the meeting was not attended by a single representative of the opposition, which could also ask questions regarding the election of commission members. Moreover, as it turned out, local representatives of political parties do not intend to appeal against the refusal, which can be explained by the fact that during the previous political campaigns such complaints were dismissed by the courts.”

The Kastryčnicki district executive committee received very few nominations from the opposition parties, as people are afraid of reprisals at work and place of study: UCP - 11 people, Fair World - 2. Given that the commissions could have included 19 people each, while only 15 persons were eventually included, representatives of the opposition had a right to win seats in the commissions, but they were not included in order to avoid unwanted eyes and ears.

In addition, I told a CIS observer, who was present at the meeting, that the experience of previous election campaigns proves that election commissions are formed under so-called ‘corporate principle’ - they have top managers of state-owned companies, their deputies, school headmasters, while ordinary members of the PECs are their subordinates. In general, these are the people who can be easily manipulated with the use of administrative resources,” said Barys Bukhel.

After the meeting, I also spoke with Dzmitry Tzimafeyenka, head of the district administration’s department of organizational and personnel work. When I said that I would like to see all the incoming papers, which were used to form the election commissions, as the Electoral Code states that electoral campaigns should be conducted openly and publicly, he said that he had his understanding of the law and refused to do so. For me, it means only one thing – the electoral process is till a ‘private club’. There is no transparency and openness, despite the fact that the hall was almost full. The meeting was attended by dozens of representatives of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union, the Red Cross, veterans’ association, government officials, but everyone was quiet. No one asked a single question, and no one supported me,” he concluded.

A similar picture was observed by human rights activist Aliaksei Kolchyn who attended a meeting in the administration of Lieninski district.

Everything was over in 35 minutes, of which 20 minutes were spent on voting separately for each PEC. They voted for a list of candidates, without announcing the names and the rest of the information. In other words, they just approved the drafted lists. Not a single representative of the opposition parties was included in the PECs. At the same time, 32 opposition candidates were nominated to the Lieninski district election commission: from the Belarusian Popular Front, UCP, “Fair World”, and the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada),” said the observer.