25 February 2020, Tuesday, 11:02
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“Elections In Belarus Can Already Be Held Without Voters”

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“Elections In Belarus Can Already Be Held Without Voters”
Photo by Yuri Dzhibladze

Mass violations at the “parliamentary elections” on September 11 have been reported at the OSCE conference in Warsaw.

The OSCE Annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting is taking place in Warsaw since September 19. Today, the Belarusian human rights defenders have organized a panel discussion dedicated to the recently passed “parliamentary elections” in Belarus, in the framework of the meeting, charter97.org reports.

President of the human rights center “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski, Deputy Chairman of the HR center “Viasna” Uladzimir Labkovich, ex-Chairperson of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Zhanna Litvina and Chairperson of the Center for Legal Information Volha Smalianka have participated in the discussion of this topic.

The human rights defenders have assessed the “parliamentary elections” which were held in Belarus. In particular, Uladzimir Labkovich has noted that they did not correspond with a series of international standards and cannot be considered free and fair. According to the human rights defender, although the authorities tried to present the electoral campaign in Belarus as “the most democratic and free”, in the reality the electoral process was closed and non-democratic.

The human rights defender has provided a detailed list of violations recorded by the observers during the electoral campaign. There was practically no opposition in the elections commissions: the number of representatives of the opposition parties in the district commissions amounted to about 1,8%, and in the precinct commissions it was even less – 0,08%. At the same time, the elections commissions by 80-90% consisted of representatives of the pro-government parties and organizations.

The procedure of checking the documents of the candidates for “deputies” was not transparent, their registration was conducted with violations so it can be stated that a considerable part of “candidates” were registered illegally.

The HR defender has reminded that an unprecedented number of voters were forced to participate in the “early voting”. “The people were folded to the voting stations to vote early by putting pressure on them, and with the help of the administrative resource,” – Uladzimir Labkovich has said.

However, the principal difference of this very campaign remains an unprecedented inflation of the voters’ turnout. The gap between the official data and the real turnout recorded by the observers made 31%. At some voting stations, the turnout was inflated several times. Thuswise, 50 people voted at one of the voting stations in Minsk, and the protocol claimed there had been 550!

“Counting of votes remains a secret special operation in Belarus, – Labkovich has said. – Even the members of the commissions have no idea about the results in the protocols they sign. The elections in Belarus can already be held without voters.”

President of the human rights center “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski has reminded that the European Union abolished sanctions against Lukashenka’s regime and activated contacts with the Belarusian authorities in February.

Upon abolishment of the sanctions, the European Union recommended that the Belarusian authorities should follow the democratic standards, in a kind and non-obligatory manner. However, the situation with human rights in Belarus hasn’t changed and remains as complicated as ever.

Certain disturbing patterns emerge; the issue of political prisoners is becoming acute again. It is mostly the representatives of youth organizations, like Anti-Fascists, football fans, National Bolshevists, who get imprisoned today, rather than well-known oppositionists. Meanwhile, in the common atmosphere of the “dialogue” with the authorities the issue of political prisoners is being concealed thus becoming not so timely for the West. The destinies of the new political prisoners remain in the shade in the end of the day.

Moreover, death penalty is still practiced in Belarus, the criminal article for the activity on behalf of an “unregistered organization” remains in force, hundreds of people get fines for participating in peaceful protest actions, the freedom of gatherings and association is not granted.

“The military conflict in Ukraine is pulling attention away from Belarus. Herein, in the conditions of the economic crisis the authorities are forced to suppress their repressive instincts, as Lukashenka’s regime is desperate for the Western money now. However, no real changes are happening in the situation with human rights in Belarus, and we all should do our best to make them happen,” – Ales Bialiatski has summarized.

Ex-Chairperson of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Zhanna Litvina has started her speech with a reminder: they started blocking independent informational resources again in Belarus. In particular, on the day of the “parliamentary elections” the high-rated website charter97.org was blocked in Belarus. Four days ago there was an attempt to hack the website,” – Zhanna Litvina has said.

The ex-Chairperson of the BAJ has pointed out rigid administrative regulation of the media in Belarus, denial in distributing independent publications, such as the newspaper "Novy Chas", through the state retail network. In addition, the media law provides for compulsory registration of distributors of independent media, blocking of Internet resources, and puts the work of freelance journalists outside the legal field.