Nomination to election commissions
The Movement For Freedom (MFF) started the campaign with nominating its representatives to the constituency and territorial election commissions. This time, we were the only one of the opposition organizations, who has covered all of the 117 commissions, including 110 constituency-level and 7 territory-level).
Similar results were reached only by pro-regime organizations; however, while Belarusian Republican Youth Union or the like were included in commissions at the rate of 99%, only 4 persons (3%) of our 117 nominees were included (2 in Brest region and 2 in Vitsebsk region).
This difference points to the unequal treatment of organizations which have nominated their representatives to election commissions.
Nomination of candidates from the MFF
The MFF as an organization nominated its candidates for MPs for the first time. A special conference was convened, at which — in accordance with Article 69 of the Constitution — it was decided to nominate 55 persons as candidates for deputies of the House of Representatives. Among them were Yuri Hubarevich, Ales Mikhalevich, Viktar Yanchurevich, Volha Damaskina, Yuri Kazakevich.
Such a move was a surprise to the authorities, and the Central Election Commission refused to even account for them. A separate list appeared after the MFF’s complaint.
None of the candidates nominated by the MFF were registered. However, we consider nomination under the Constitution important for two reasons.
First, we pointed to the discrepancy between the Electoral Code and the Constitution (the Constitution allows to nominate candidates from NGOs, while the Code does not).
Second, the 55 nominees indicate the high potential of the MFF. We can say today that if the restrictions on the rights of NGOs are lifted, we already have candidates for 50% of the constituencies in Belarus.
As of today, a number of candidates nominated by the MFF have appealed to all the authorities in Belarus and have prepared complaints to the Constitutional Court of Belarus and the UN Human Rights Committee.
MFF members were nominated by other ways, as well — they collected signatures and used party nomination. As a result, 22 of the 52 applicants were registered.
A number of strong MFF candidates have not been registered as candidates for deputies. First of all, these are MFF Chairman Yuri Hubarevich, MFF Deputy Chairman Viktar Yanchurevich, and MFF Council member, one of the leader of the protest against a battery plant in Brest, Raman Kisliak, all of whom collected signatures in their support.
The registered candidates used the election campaign as actively as they could — they held pickets in dozens of cities, published the MFF Programme in the state-owned media, addressed voters on the state-owned TV channels, took part in debates (both governmental and independently organized by Naviny.by), and distributed tens of thousands of copies of printed materials.
A picket by MFF member Ivan Kruk was held near the Belarusian NPP. MFF member Irina Amelyanchuk was one of the applicants of the rally against a battery plant in Brest.
Unfortunately, democratic politicians only have such legal possibilities during election campaigns.
Signatures were collected during the election campaign in support of amendments to the local self-government and privatization laws, promoted by the MFF, and citizens were informed about these topics.
Observation and voting
The MFF applied the tactics of active struggle against fraud at this election campaign. Our observers not only filed complaints to election commissions on the distortion of election results and overstatement of voter turnout, but also filed complaints to the police about criminal offenses.
Only at No. 107 Minsk Uskhodniaya constituency, 27 complaints were filed, of which 13 were complaints to the police on initiating criminal cases for voter turnout falsifications, including by the MFF Chairman Yuri Hubarevich. MFF observers were unlawfully expelled from ballot stations 13 times in this constituency.
“Huge amount of work has been done during the election campaign. If we just ignored it, we couldn’t have reached an audience of millions with our proposals to demonstrate an alternative. New persons appeared in our ranks. We were also able to find the regime’s soft spot — we should demand that criminal cases be initiated on election fraud,” said Hubarevich.
According to him, “the objective, which was set for this campaign, has been reached”, and if the regime did not limit our possibilities at every stage, we would have done even more.
Among such restrictions, he named, in particular, non-inclusion of the MFF representatives in election commissions, non-registration of candidates, denial of the right to debate, removal of TV speeches, unlawful warnings to candidates, and expulsions of observers.
“Today, the regime retains its power solely by fear, intimidation, deception, and fraud. The people don’t have a single MP in the newly elected House of Representatives who would represent their desire for change,” concluded Hubarevich.