At the beginning of the meeting in Vitsebsk, Chairman of the Movement For Freedom (MFF) Yuri Hubarevich spoke about the MFF’s participation in the formation of election commissions. The MFF was able to nominate its representatives to all 117 commissions in 110 constituencies, 6 regions, and Minsk City, reports ‘Vitsebsk Spring’.
According to Hubarevich, only [fake pro-regime organizations] Belaya Rus and Belarusian Republican Youth Union managed to nominate a comparable number of members. However, while 115 persons got into election commissions from Belaya Rus, only 4 persons from MFF were admitted there. Thus, according to Hubarevich, there is no way to say there are some equal terms.
By the way, two MFF members were included in constituency commissions in Vitsebsk region. In particular, Aliaksey Haurutsikau was included in No. 22 Dokshitsi constituency commission and Siarhey Khvastsionak was included in No. 29 Pastavi constituency commission.
An expert: NGOs have the right to nominate their candidates
The meeting also discussed the initiative to nominate MFF candidates at a congress, as is usually done by registered political parties. The legitimacy of such initiative was substantiated by PhD of Law, associate professor of Vitsebsk State University Anatol Piatrou, who was specially invited to the meeting as an expert.
Piatrou said that, according to the current Belarusian Constitution, NGOs have the right to nominate their candidates.
The expert referred to Article 69 of the Constitution, which states that “the right to nominate candidates for deputy shall be vested in non-governmental organizations, workers’ associations, and citizens in accordance with the law”, and Article 5, according to which “political parties and non-governmental organizations, acting within the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Belarus, have the right to assist in identifying and expressing the political will of citizens and to participate in elections.”
However, the Electoral Code says nothing about the NGOs’ right to nominate their candidates. Articles 62, 63, and 65 describe only the procedures of nomination by political parties, workers’ associations, and citizens by collecting signatures. In this respect, the electoral law is contrary to the Constitution, says Anatol Piatrou.
According to the expert, however, the Constitution is of priority in this case. Indeed, Article 137 states it clearly: “The Constitution has supreme legal force. Any laws, decrees, orders, and any other enactments of state bodies shall be promulgated based on and in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus. In case of discrepancy between a law, a decree or an order and the Constitution, the Constitution shall prevail.”
If constituency commissions deny registration to MFF members nominated as candidates for deputies, Piatrou advises to appeal against such denials in court. Thus, a precedent may appear.
“We need to be ready to take to the streets”
The regional MFF meeting also touched upon the issue of possible integration with Russia.
Yuri Hubarevich thinks than if some documents are signed and the government announce specific steps, the public will be alarmed and people might take to a large-scale protest event. It is a massive street protest that could scare the regime and force it to abandon the deep integration with the eastern neighbour.
“We must be ready to quickly mobilize and take to the streets if integration documents are signed,” said the MFF leader.
In the final part of the meeting, those present elected 5 delegates to the MFF national congress, which will take place in Minsk on September 28. It is at the Congress that MFF intends to nominate candidates for deputies from all over Belarus.
A meeting in Homel touched upon the issue of protection of independence, as well. MFF Council member Uladzimir Katsora stated the meeting objectives to the participants, while MFF Council member Volha Bikouskaya told about the progress of the MFF activists’ campaign and said she thinks the MFF should use the opportunities of the election period to raise the issue of protecting the country’s independence.
MFF member Dzianis Rabianok supported the idea of holding a special conference. In this way, we would impose our idea on the authorities, he believes.
Apart from nominating the delegates, the need of the politicians’ assistance during the election campaign in solving local problems was one of the main issues discussed at the Brest meeting. This proposal is especially relevant for this regional capital, where the nominees include MFF Council member Raman Kisliak who is an activist of the group opposing the construction of a battery factory near Brest.
Members of the Mahiliou meeting focused on discussing the local candidate’s campaign, while Hrodna meeting members — after nominating the delegates — discussed the situation in the region and the country.