Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт


Campaigning restrictions announced in Babrujsk, Dobruš, Svietlahorsk districts, Viciebsk region

Local executive authorities in Babrujsk, Dobruš, Hlybokaje districts and the Viciebsk region have announced restrictions on campaigning events in the territory of these districts.

In Babrujsk district, campaigning activities will be forbidden in the most crowed places.

Traditionally, campaign teams are not welcomed in the territory of institutions of education, healthcare, culture, sports, and social services. Also, it will be impossible to collect signatures at a distance of less than 50 meters from the local representative, executive and administrative bodies, territories of organizations in charge of water and power supply.

Thus, we can say that the list again features the most populous and convenient locations, both for the campaigning activists and for voters.

The implementation of the decision will be supervised by police officers, as well as deputy chairman of the Babrujsk District Executive Committee and chairmen of rural executive committees.

In Dobruš district, it will be prohibited to picket at a distance of less than 50 meters from the buildings of the district executive committee, rural executive committees, courts, prosecutor's offices, police departments, the district military enlistment office, the bus station and the railway station, educational institutions, as well as a number of major industrial enterprises.

In addition, picketing is banned at a distance less than 100 meters from the building of the district hospital.

Monitoring the implementation of the decision is entrusted to the deputy chairman of the executive committee in charge of social services, the police department, and heads of the organizations mentioned in it. The decision will be published in the local newspaper Dobrušski Kraj.

According to local observers, this is the first published decision on opportunities for collecting voters’ signatures, despite the fact that tomorrow (June 17) is the last day when all without exception district executive committees are expected to adopt and publish similar decisions.

In particular, the official website of the Homieĺ City Council has not yet published where campaigning will be prohibited, only giving a reference to the experience of Dobruš officials.

Activists collecting signatures in the Viciebsk region will have to count meters and to independently determine the limits of authorized locations outside some of the government buildings.

In Hlybokaje, it will be impossible to collect signatures for the nomination of candidates closer than 50 meters from government buildings. In other district centers – closer than 20 meters. In some districts, the distance is not determined; however, officials introduced much more restrictive rules.

Most of the official websites of the Viciebsk region have already published rules for collecting signatures for nomination of presidential candidates. The executive committees were to decide on the issue by July 17. However, as of 4 p.m. July 16 no information about campaigning restrictions has been published by the websites of Vierchniadzvinsk, Orša, Pastavy and Sianno district executive committees.

As for the other executive committees, their restrictions on the collection of signatures are not uniform. In Hlybokaje, local officials seem to have used regulations active in the previous elections, announcing that signatures for the candidates could not be collected closer than 50 meters from some enterprises and institutions.

In other districts, it is impossible to approach some government buildings closer than 20 meters. But in Dokšycy and Biešankovičy districts, for example, such objects are only the executive committees, the court, the prosecutor’s office and the police department. While in Ušačy district local authorities have added to these institutions local department of emergencies, the military enlistment office, rural executive committees, child care facilities and educational institutions, healthcare organizations, objects of heating and water supply, the bus station, the museum, and several others. Similar lists, except for the museums and monuments, have been published in Liozna, Liepieĺ, Šarkaŭščyna and Šumilina.

The Miory district executive committee has decided not to measure distance, but simply enumerated the building outside which signatures collection is prohibited. Meanwhile, the decision does not specify how the restricted distance should be measured in each specific location.

The most comprehensive decision has been announced in Talačyn: the list of prohibited locations is one and a half pages long. The list of detailed, with several paragraphs and parts. In some cases, campaigners will have to stay away 50 meters, in some - 20, and in the case of churches – 100 meters.

Of course, such complexity will significantly hamper the work of collecting signatures, which will have to carry both a flexible ruler and the list of objects in order not to be confused and accurately calculate the distance.

In the big cities of the region, conditions for collecting signatures are unequal: in Polack and Navapolack campaigners will have to stay 20 meters from the executive committees, courts, prosecuting authorities and police departments. The Viciebsk city executive committee also banned the collection of signatures closer than 20 meters from the executive committees, courts, prosecutor's offices and the district police departments, as well as in the central Victory Square and numerous health care institutions.

In Svietlahorsk, collecting signatures is not allowed closer than 200 meters from local administrative buildings, while not all of the executive committees in the Homieĺ region have published decisions on the places where collecting signatures will be prohibited.

The decisions already posted on the websites of executive committees reflect similar restrictions: picketing is not allowed at a distance of less than 50 meters from the buildings of the executive committee, rural executive committees, courts, prosecutor's offices, police departments, district military enlistment office, and other administrative buildings. It prohibited to campaign at a distance less than 100 meters from the hospitals. At least, such bans have been introduced in Lieĺčycy, Karma, Vietka, Dobruš and Brahin districts. It is noteworthy that the decision of the Brahin District Executive Committee on the official website is called a draft and dated 9 July.

A particular decision about forbidden campaigning locations has been announced by the Svietlahorsk district executive committee. According to the decision, it is impossible to stage pickets at a distance less than 200 meters from the executive committee, the police, the prosecutor's office. Campaigners cannot approach closer than 50 meters rural executive committees, courts, buildings and territories of various organizations that "provide the livelihoods of the population."

“Human Rights Defenders For Free Elections”