Report on the Results of Monitoring Registration of Initiative Groups and Signature Collection in Support of the Persons Nominated As Candidates for Deputies

2012 2012-08-17T08:18:17+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en 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

ELECTION OF DEPUTIES OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE National Assembly of Belarus of the fifth convocation

Report on the Results of Monitoring Registration of Initiative Groups and Signature Collection in Support of the Persons Nominated As Candidates for Deputies

General Conclusions:


- The vast majority of the initiative groups in support of the opposition candidates were registered. 85 initiative groups were denied registration, which is percentagewise almost 4 times the number of denials during the parliamentary elections in 2008.

- There are registered facts of the authorities creating obstacles for members of the opposition candidates’ initiative groups and using administrative resources for the benefit of those who support the government.

- At the signature collection stage members of initiative groups have filed a total of 15 complaints, while during the presidential election of 2010 more than 50 complaints were filed. The complaints are mainly about no access to dormitories of state enterprises and institutions for members of initiative groups.

І. The Legal Framework

According to Article 65 of the Election Code, one of the ways to nominate candidates is to collect voters' signatures; signature collection is to be done by a group of at least 10 people. A person to be nominated as a candidate is to get support of at least 1,000 voters residing in the district.

Anyone eligible to vote, i.e. is a citizen of Belarus who has reached the age of 18[1], can put a signature in support of a candidate’s nomination. A voter may put a signature in support of several candidates, but only once in support of the same candidate.

Participation of organizations’ administrations in signature collection, as well as compulsion in the signature collection process, as well as rewarding voters for putting signatures is prohibited. Those intending to become candidates do not have the right to ask people under their supervision or subordinate to them in other official way to carry out activities related to their nomination during working hours. Violation of these requirements may become the ground for not registering the candidate.

Once signatures are collected the signature sheets are submitted to an appropriate district election commission for verification of the voters’ signatures and registration of a candidate for the parliament.

Unlike the previous elections to the Chamber of Representatives, this election takes place under the Election Code amended on January 4, 2010. The main changes were made in the procedures of collection and verification of signatures. The Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign evaluates the changes as positive:


  • A signature sheet should include signatures of voters who reside in the territory of one city of regional subordination, one rayon, in cities with rayon division – in the territory of one rayon (not in one settlement, as provided in the previous version of the Election Code);
  • It is not required to obtain permission for picketing in order to collect voters' signatures, if it occurs in places that are not prohibited by local authorities;
  • Signature sheets shall be certified by a member of the initiative group (not by heads of local executive bodies where signatures were collected, as in the previous edition of the Election Code);
  • If the signature sheets received by an appropriate commission, include signatures of voters residing in different rayons, or cities of regional subordination, or rayons in the city, only the signatures collected in the corresponding territory are to be verified and counted (while in the previous edition of the Election Code signatures of voters who resided in different settlements were considered invalid.)


ІІ. Registration of Initiative Groups

The process of registration of the initiative groups for collection of signatures in support of candidates' nomination ended on July 25. According to the Central Election Commission, altogether the district commissions received 440 applications for registration. They registered 352 initiative groups intending to nominate 330 candidates (some candidates registered several initiative groups in different districts).

85 groups have been denied registration; percentagewise it is almost 4 times the number of denials during the previous parliamentary elections. Despite this, there is no reason to state a larger number of denials to persons who intend to be nominated. This time only 15 potential candidates were rejected. One of the reasons why the large number of initiative groups was denied registration is the fact that the groups in support of Mikalai Statkevich and Ales Mikhalevich tried to get registered in several district commissions. During the previous election campaigns observers did not record such tactics as registration of several initiative groups in support of one person.


Election year

Applications filed

Denied registration


% of denial

















66 out of 330 potential candidates are members of political parties. Opposition parties registered the following number of initiative groups: Belarusian Left Party "Fair World" - 26, BPF Party - 18, UCP - 4, BSDP (H) - 9, Belarusian Party "The Greens" - 1. Non-opposition political parties registered the following number of initiative groups: the Communist Party of Belarus - 5, Belarusian Agrarian Party - 1, Republican Party of Labor and Justice - 1.

The CEC chairperson explained the reasons why initiative groups of Mikalai Statkevich and Ales Mikhalevich were denied registration. According to Lydia Yarmoshyna, Statkevich did not pass any letters to the election commissions through the administration of the correctional institution where he was serving a criminal sentence, while Mikhalevich is on the international wanted list. Documents for registration of his initiative group had been submitted together with an overdue letter of authority[2].


It should be noted that nomination of a candidate and application for registration as an actor in the election process (initiative group) is a form of implementation of the citizens’ right to participate in elections. Restriction of this right must be based on law. Statkevich’s electoral rights are restricted by Article 57 of the Election Code. However, it was illegal for the commissions to restrict the rights of citizens who wanted to nominate the well-known politicians, as their decision not to register the initiative groups was motivated by an arbitrary interpretation of Article 64 of the Constitution and Articles 4 and 65 of the Election Code. In fact, it was not the right of Mikalai Statkevich and Ales Mikhalevich to participate in elections that was limited by such decisions of the election commissions, but the right of citizens who united in initiative groups for their nomination. For example, the district election commissions did not take into account that by the time they would consider Statkevich’s registration the reasons for denial might become invalid. (For instance, the legislation of Belarus provides for exemption from punishment with clearing of a criminal record or acquittal as a result of the judicial supervision). If this is not the case, district election commissions are to deny registration to Mikalai Statkevich.

ІІІ. Signature Collection for Candidates’ Nomination

The signature collection stage ended on August 13. The election commissions received the total of 223 signature packages. Some candidates were nominated in several ways. Among them, 123 candidates were nominated only by signature collection, 88 -- both by signature collection and labor collectives, and 8 -- by signature collection and political parties. 4 candidates used all three methods of nomination.



Nomination Method




Signature collection




Signature collection and labor collectives




Signature collection and political parties




Signature collection, political parties and labor collectives.




Signature collection was carried out either by picketing or by door-to-door activities. These two methods were used by initiative groups of both pro-governmental and opposition candidates. When collecting signatures the initiative groups of opposition activists have been put in unequal conditions in comparison with the initiative groups of the loyal candidates. Observers registered cases when administration of student and worker dormitories did not allow collecting signatures in the dorms referring to the fact that signature collection was not authorized by management of the educational establishments or enterprises the dorms belonged to.

In many cases, the administrative resource was involved (collecting signatures in the offices of the state institutions during working hours, involvement of officials, who are not members of initiative groups, etc.). For example, in Slutsk, the “Slutskmezhraygaz” and “Slutsky Meat" enterprises organized signature collection for the incumbent MP Inessa Kliashchuk. In Brest city polyclinic # 6 patients were asked to put their signatures in support of the pro-government candidate Valiantsin Milasheuski. In Navapolatsk, director of one of the city markets collected signatures in support of Vadzim Dzeviatousky, chairman of the local "Belaya Rus" branch, from the vendors who rented market stands.

We have also registered facts when administrations of enterprises and institutions forbade their subordinates to support nomination of opposition candidates, or demanded that they leave their initiative groups.

In general, signature collection pickets did not encounter any obstacles from the local authorities.

IV. Appeals

According to the data collected by the lawyers of the “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” campaign, the initiative groups filed only 15 complaints during the signature collection stage (while during the presidential election of 2010, there were more than 50 complaints filed during the same election period). The insignificant number of complaints can be explained by the fact that the main actors in the election campaign – the political parties – nominated their candidates by decisions of their governing bodies, while signature collection was mainly used for drawing public attention to other social and political events.

У асноўным абскарджанні датычыліся нядопуску сяброў ініцыятыўных груп у інтэрнаты для збору подпісаў. Таксама былі абскарджанні рашэнняў органаў мясцовай улады аб вызначэнні месцаў, забароненых для збору подпісаў. Так, у выніку абскарджвання зменена рашэнне Брэсцкага гарадскога выканаўчага камітэта, у выніку чаго з спіса забароненых выключана пэўная колькасць месцаў горада. У некаторых выпадках аналагічныя скаргі не былі задаволены. Мінскі абласны выканаўчы камітэт адмовіў у задавальненні скаргі на рашэнне Слуцкага раённага выканаўчага камітэта. Адмоўнае рашэнне прыняў Мінаблвыканкамам па скарзе на рашэнне Любанскага райвыканкама. Варта заўважыць, што на прэзідэнцкіх выбарах 2010 г. менавіта Мінскі абласны выканаўчы камітэт быў адным з нешматлікіх органаў, які пераглядаў рашэнні ніжэйшых выканкамаў на карысць пашырэння дазволеных месцаў.

Most appeals were related to the fact that members of initiative groups did not have access to dormitories for signature collection activities. Also, there were appeals against the local authorities’ decisions determining the places where signature collection was prohibited. This way, after aт appeal the Brest city executive committee changed its decision excluding a number of city spots from the ban list. In some other cases, similar appeals were not satisfied. Minsk regional executive committee rejected the appeals against the decisions made by Slutsk rayon executive committee and Luban rayon executive committee. It should be noted that during the 2010 presidential election Minsk regional executive committee was one of the few bodies that revised the decisions of the lower-level executive committees and expanded the number of the places for picketing.

V. Warnings, Prosecution

Slonim activist, member of BPF Party Ivan Sheha received a written warning from the district election commission. Formal violations were revealed in the work of his initiative group. Lahoisk district election commission # 75 made two warnings to Valiantsina Kaliaka. The first warning was appealed to CEC and cancelled. Kaliaka also plans to appeal against the second warning.

Potential candidate Leu Marholin, deputy chairman of the United Civil Party, and his proxy Mikhail Vasilyeu were fined for holding a picket under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code (violation of the order of organization and holding a mass event). The reason was a slogan written on a stand of the initiative group. The decision of Barysau rayon court was appealed to Minsk regional court. As of today, the appeal has not yet been considered.


[1] According to Article 4 of the Election Code, citizens who have been declared legally incapable by court, as well as persons serving a sentence in places of confinement and persons held in detention before trial do not participate in the elections.




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