Brest observers fail to appeal electoral violations
A number of independent observers in Brest have received negative replies to their complaints about alleged violations of the election legislation, says Sviatlana Aliasiuk, representative of the regional office of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada). The complaints mainly concerned the vote counting procedure.
“At nearly all the polling stations where activists of our party worked as observers we documented violations that occurred during the counting of votes,” says Sviatlana Aliasiuk. “Most complaints dealt with the fact that they just did not have any real opportunity to see the members of the commission count the ballots, as the observers were ordered to sit at a distance of five meters from the table where the ballots were being counted.” However, all the complaints received formal responses from the chairmen of the election commissions, who said that there were no violations of election laws.
“We do not agree with the replies, because we believe that the election officials violated the rights of citizens, independent observers, and submitted complaints to the territorial election commissions, as well as the Prosecutor's Office of Brest. We hope that the supervisory authority will respond to our requests and will address the matter properly,” said the BSDP activist.
In a similar case, the city’s Prosecutor’s Office has refused to open a criminal case into allegations of electoral fraud reported by Dzianis Turchaniak and Siarhei Vakulenka, observers of the Movement "For Freedom".
At three polling stations in Brest, when early voting was underway, local supporters of the Movement "For Freedom" organized a special experiment: they kept the ballots and cast blank sheets of paper in the ballot box instead. However, during the counting of votes in polling stations Nos. 53 and 60 the sheets were not found in the ballot boxes, which, according to Dzianis Turchaniak, gives reason to believe that the ballot boxes for early voting had been opened and the ballots were replaced.
“Together with Siarhei Vakulenka, we wrote an application to the city Prosecutor's Office, so that it opened a criminal investigation into the falsification of documents related to the election, and intentionally wrong counting of votes,” said Dzianis Turchaniak. However, the Prosecutor's Office refused to consider the application and forwarded it to the territorial electoral commission. The election officials, in turn, said that voting at the polling station where Turchaniak was an observer was held in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Code.
Dzianis Turchaniak believes that the city Prosecutor's Office has violated the Code of Criminal Procedure, as it, instead of investigating the facts contained in the complaint, has forwarded it to the institution (the territorial election commission), which does not have the competence to institute criminal proceedings. Now Turchaniak says that he will appeal the case to the Prosecutor's Office of the Brest region.