“But it was me who collected this passport data!” wonders Yuri Hubarevich and stresses that if he had details of deficiencies on hand, he could effectively work with that information. Among other things, he could appeal more specifically against the refusal to register him as a candidate for deputy.
“I filed a complaint to the city commission,” tells Hubarevich to the Belarusian Partisan. "However, they give you too little time to appeal — it seems nobody is interested in that the candidates should be able to visit the people who signed up for them and, for example, get a confirmation that they really put their signatures the candidates’ signature sheets. I asked to give me the opportunity to make copies of the signature sheets with remarks to know what claims were made. I could have visited these people again and take pictures of their passport data or get confirmation that they really put their signatures for me, that is to collect proper evidential base. However, I cannot do this — I have been denied this right by the constituency commission.
— But, have they shown you at least a few examples — an error in the date here or an illegible signature here? Or, they didn’t show anything at all?
“I insisted on my right to make copies to know the specific (!) errors in specific places. According to the commission’s estimates, my signature sheets contain 120 bad signatures. Overall, I have submitted 1,123 signatures.
Naturally, if the commission chairperson just quickly showed me the sheets with remarks, I wouldn’t remember much, and it wouldn’t be possible to carry on proper work with this. So, I asked to make a copy or simply take a picture of the remarks with my phone. But I was denied this, with the refusal being explained by the fact that passport data of voters is specified there. The paradox is that it was me who brought this passport data to the commission; it is me who this people signed up for!”
— Do you hope that your complaint will be satisfied?
“I wrote in my complaint that it was impossible to learn everything in detail. However, it is not for the first time that I encounter such things. For example, a commission can pretend they cannot make out some numbers, and recognize this as an error. In fact, voters put the figures in signature sheets themselves very often; they have such a right. It’s strange to say it is a mistake in the passport number if the figure is simply written not very carefully.
I hope that when my complaint is considered at a meeting of Minsk City Commission, I could make a copy to later appeal to court.”
— Could it be, nevertheless, that you are also to blame for the fact that the signature sheets contain errors? Perhaps, you should have verified everything three hundred times and fill them out in such a way that it was impossible to find any error at all?
“It’s difficult to estimate whether these are errors or not — I don’t have the signature sheets with the commission’s remarks on hand. However, the commission’s decision does not state that any signature had been falsified. There are situations when some candidates try to manipulate and submit untrue signatures. In this situation, however, our team worked perfectly, and there are no claims to the collected signatures — they are all true. But, there may be clerical errors or inconsistencies in the writing of letters and numbers. Signatures are collected at pickets; voters sometimes hurry and ask to fill out signature sheet themselves.
Another question is to hire people with copperplate hand who would be collecting signatures, but I’m afraid it would be a long process. This is a huge amount of work! One has to visit a lot of apartments to get the signatures of people who, for the most part, are disappointed with the regime’s policy. So, they perceive the elections as some campaign which is not for the benefit of people or the opposition, but the regime. Therefore, the door is usually closed before the nose of a signature collector, when they mention elections.
I think, even if the signature sheets were filled out perfectly, they still would split hairs. This is a politically put-up job. They find broken legacy cars sold for $3, which becomes a reason for non-registration. At the same time, I am convinced that they have a completely different attitude to pro-regime candidates, and turn a blind eye to many things, although they have the same signature collectors as we do. But their signature sheets are accepted because there are no representatives of the opposition in election commissions, who could say: ‘Let’s compare these signature sheets.’ They would have the same remarks.”
— Do you think the members of the election commission have listened to your words that electoral fraud is a crime that has no statute of limitations, and that they will have to answer for their actions sooner or later?
“I’m afraid that such a multi-level selection of commission members has been made over the years that they simply don’t think about their future.
But the dictatorship is not eternal. And, sooner or later, it will end.
In fact, not only precinct election commissions are engaged in manipulation, but constituency commissions, as well. We have the facts. All this will be revealed sooner or later, and members of election commissions will be competing in telling about crimes to get lesser punishment. This is a matter for the future.”
— Lidziya Yarmoshina [Central Election Commission Chairperson] now meets with the press often and talks about the election. Don’t you want to tell her directly about the real work of the commissions?
“I’m afraid I won’t by allowed talking to her. Indeed, Lidziya Yarmoshina does her best to avoids such face-to-face discussions. I have, actually, addressed candidate Henadz Davidzka many times to arrange a debate with him, but my non-registration as a candidate for deputy is probably the answer to those addresses. No debate will happen now, indeed.
The regime fears meetings at state-owned enterprises with the participation of a pro-regime candidate and a representative of the opposition. This is a most stressful situation for the officials! The regime has nothing to say to people today. And, people treat any regime appointees very negatively. Therefore, they want to get rid of the competition and hold elections in a relatively sterile atmosphere to have fewer problems.”