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 Press release - Press-release (CPI)

 Press release date: 22.10.2004


INAM Center for Pluralism

October 22, 2004

Center for Pluralism “Inam” participated in observation of the parliamentary elections and referendum on the amendments in the Constitution on October 17 in Byelorussia. International observation conducted on the mission of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe (IDEE) lasted from October 9 till October 21.

Politologists Hikmet Hajizadeh and Khagani Huseynli, lawyers Isakhan Ashurov and Eldaniz Ahmadov, law deferder Shahla Ismailova observed October 17 elections and referendum on behalf of the Center for Pluralism “Inam”. Final communique, which was distributed on behalf of the mission (representatives from Poland, Czech, Gazakhistan and Kirghizistan are included here) coordinated by famous Czech journalist Petrushka Shustrova and consisting of 18 persons clarifies numerous law violations observed in the elections and referendum.

Elections on majority system to Byelorussian parliament of 110 deputies and the referendum on changing 81th article forbidding one person’s election as president more than twice does not meet international standards, this process was observed with sharp violation of wide-national norms and byelorussian laws which are not very perfect.

The observers insist on separate antidemocratic articles stating that Election Code of the Republic of Byelorussia is far away from democratic standards. For instance, Election Code does not foresee uniquely representation of election participants in election commissions. The government solves itself the issue on giving place to the representatives from opposition in the commissions. And here representatives from opposition are put into irregular struggle condition, wide manipulation is created for the power in the process of voters lists making, bulletins counting and protocols preparation. Though election commissions let in opposition representatives and independent observers into precincts, in the process of voting and votes count they are placed in a such distance from where it is impossible to observe neither ballot box nor the process occurring on the tables of the commission members. Serious restrictions of pre-election agitation opportunities by Election Code hadn’t gone out of the filed of vision of the observers. For instance, it is forbidden to spend an amount for agitation campaign of the candidate besides 450 US dollars allocated from state budget. Serious restrictions are put for distribution of these materials in squares and streets.

The observers also revealed other antidemocratic moments prevailing in propagation of the election campaign. It was noted that main mass media of the country in concentrated in state’s hand, independent media is shackled with different administrative measures. In case when representatives from opposition could get 5 minute air time not in rush hours only in television and radio canals, representatives from power succeeded to agitate in separate informative and analytical programs as much as they wished. As per calculations of Byelorussia Journalists Associations, 75-77% of air time was occupied by the president Lukashenko. Over 10 non-governmental press organs activity was stopped in election period.

Concerning elections it was stated that though October 17 was the election day, in fact voting had begun since October 12. In conformity with legislation, voters not having opportunity to vote on election day for some reasons get right to vote early. According to observers’ conclusions early voting turned into great falsification mechanism. Only 21% of the country population voted on October 17. In military parts election process was completed on October 15-16. Employees of state enterprises were put under pressure to vote for the amendments in the Constitution allowing Lukashenko to be elected country head for an uncertain period of time.

Mission representatives took observation in Minsk, Bobryusk, Brest, Mogilyov, Molodechno, Borisov and Novopolotsk noted also election day law violations. They met posters in election precincts propagating power representatives and answering “yes” to the question in the referendum. In some precincts ballot boxes were put on the tables of commission members, they were no polling booths. It could be said that there were not any opposition observers in the commissions.

Observers also marked cases of dismissals of the candidates from opposition from marathon on the occasion of various causes in election period. Candidates from Byelorussian Popular Front Party Aleksey Yanukevich, Aleksey Mikhalevich and more 20 opposition candidates were dismissed from election campaign without any ground.

Similar law violations took total character in votes count process.

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