ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF THE CHAMBER OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS OF THE FIFTH CONVOCATION
Weekly analytical report on election monitoring results #3
Mass Media on Election
State TV channels practically do not cover election activity of the political parties in opposition. Meanwhile, materials in support of potential pro-governmental candidates were registered in a number of districts. Minsk city and regional press publishes interviews with the current members of the parliament. We have also noticed appearance of some printed materials calling for boycott of the election.
Meeting of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Belarus on Elections and National Referendums
The meeting of the Central Election Commission took place on July 5th. The Commission decided to refuse Dzmity Vus in registration of an initiative group for amending election law. They say, the negative decision was grounded in inaccuracies in the prepared documents and violations made during the meeting of the initiative group.
The Central Election Commission made 6 ruling during its meeting, including:
Ruling # 33 “About Approving the Regulation on the Order of Using the Mass Media during Preparation and Holding the Election of Members of the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Fifth Convocation”.
According to the Regulation a candidate is entitled to publish his platform in one of the national state-owned newspapers or in a state-owned newspaper published on the territory of the district. Candidates are provided with 5 minutes for a speech on the state radio and 5 minutes on the state TV, as well as 5 minutes for a speech within the framework of the debates. The Ruling states, the candidates’ speeches should be pre-recorded. It is the first parliamentary election when candidates are allowed to make political advertizing in mass media funded with candidates’ private election funds. The Ruling establishes the order of using this mechanism. However, during the last presidential election private radio station Autoradio lost its broadcasting frequency for airing political advertisement financed by the oppositional presidential candidates. That gives grounds for doubting that political advertizing will become a mass phenomenon.
Ruling # 34 “About Supervisory Council for Control over Implementation of the Rules and Order of Election Campaigning in Mass Media”.
The Council consists of representatives of the state-owned mass media and the Ministry of Information. The civic society is represented in the Council by two members of the pro-governmental Union of Journalists. BAJ and non-state media are not represented in the Supervisory Council.
International Context and Government’s Reaction
On July 5th the UN Human Rights Council voted for establishing a new mandate of the special rapporteur on Belarus, cancelled in 2007. According to the new mandate, the special rapporteur will present a report not only to the UN Human Rights Council, but also to the UN General Assembly. That provoked a strong reaction of the official Minsk which claimed it did not recognize the mandate of the special rapporteur and refused to cooperate with him. At the same time, the European Parliament adopted another resolution on Belarus, condemning human rights violations in Belarus and calling for reforming the legislative base, including the election law in Belarus. The EU member countries are urged to consider the possibility to extend sanctions against the Belarusian leadership. These two events focused the attention of the international community on Belarus again. They might have negative consequences for the domestic political situation – provoke steps from the Belarusian government as it happened with the list of persons banned from leaving the country, made in response to bigger sanctions introduced by the EU.
On July 6th the Chamber of Representatives, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus sent invitations to international organizations, as well as the OSCE, to participate in observation of the parliament election. The election of 2012 will not become an exclusion and will be observed by the international monitors.
Pressure on Civic Activists
On July 4th Partyzanski raion court of Minsk ruled to seize the office of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, as part of the case against its chair Ales Bialiatski. This creates significant obstacles for independent observation over the election to the Chamber of Representatives.
On July 4th Andrei Mouchan, activist of the “European Belarus” campaign was fined for “illegal picketing”.
On July 5th Alena Semenchukova, Vitebsk activist of the “European Belarus” campaign was sentenced to 10 days of arrest for distributing leaflets calling for the boycott of the election.
On July 4th Alexander Lukashenka signed Edict # 295 “About Simplification of the Order of Leaving the Republic of Belarus”. The edict changes the regulation about the database of the persons, whose right to leave the country is restricted. In fact, the amended regulation entitles KGB to enter persons on their “register of preventive supervision” into the database. This way the authorities legalized the lists of the citizens banned from leaving the country, which include well-known opposition activists and public figures.