Viciebsk Prosecutor’s Office launches probe into reports on coercion to vote for Lukashenka
Tatsiana Seviarynets, an activist of the Belarusian Christian Democracy’s branch in Viciebsk, has been summoned to the Regional Prosecutor’s Office, after the BCD’s website published a report alleging that the parents of pupils of local school No. 38 were forced to sign a written promise to vote for Aliaksandr Lukashenka in the upcoming election scheduled for October 11.
Tatsiana Seviarynets, whose words are quoted in the publication, says that she heard about the alleged violations from a woman:
“That’s exactly what I was told, that the parents were forced to sign a paper at a meeting saying that they would vote for Aliaksandr Lukashenka. I remember it because of the day when it happened: I was told about it on September 8 or 9, even before the registration of candidates. So I started listening to what people say about preparations for the elections. The parents of pupils of school No. 12, for example, said that campaigning for Aliaksandr Lukashenka had started long before the launch of the campaign. I told all this to Prosecutor Maryna Zaprudskaya, who interviewed me about the online publication”.
The Prosecutor’s Office was ordered to investigate the report by the regional election commission. The election officials, in turn, received a message from the Chairman of the Regional Board of Education Ivan Shchurok, who referred to the complaints of the headmasters of two local schools mentioned in the articles posted on the website bchd.info. One of the articles told about the receipts, and the other – about early campaigning and coercion to participate in the election.
“I only told what I heard with my own ears. And this, on the one hand, is good – that the Prosecutor’s Office has launched a probe. Maybe, the heads of educational institutions will refrain from illegal actions. Indeed, during previous election campaigns there were documented cases when parent meetings were organized during the early voting campaign, people were ordered to come with a passport and were actually forced into the polls. It’s too bad, as now we have even more violations. On the other hand, it would not be good if these articles about the Viciebsk school could somehow damage our website,” says Tatsiana Seviarynets.