Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт


Activists of Anatol Liabedzka’s campaign team report obstacles in collecting signatures

Today, members of the initiative group of Anatol Liabedzka, leader of the United Civil Party running for President, were not allowed to collect signatures for the registration of the UCP leader as a presidential candidate by security guards of the Minsk-based market Ždanovičy.

Aliaksei Markouski and Uladzimir Kozak started picketing in the morning, but were soon approached by security guards, who insulted the campaigners and ordered them to leave the market, referring to the fact that the territory is private property. However, it is yet unknown who gave that order.

The activists were forced to leave the place.

"We asked on what basis we were not allowed to collect signatures? But representatives of the security service were not been able to answer. They only offered to write a complaint to be considered within a month. After that, we phoned the CEC, but the CEC Secretary Mikhail Lazavik was out of office, and we just said that the CEC did not control the territory of the market. This whole situation is a blatant and illegal,” Volha Mayorava, Liabedzka’s campaign headquarters coordinator in Minsk, told the Human Rights Center “Viasna”.

Pavel Sapelka, lawyer of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", stresses that, in accordance with decision No. 1842 of July 9, 2015 "On determining the locations in Minsk which are prohibited for picketing in order to collect voters' signatures for the nomination of candidates for President of the Republic of Belarus", holding pickets to collect signatures is prohibited:

  • at the facilities of the metro, railway and air transport, pedestrian crossings;
  • on the territory of Kastryčnickaja Square, Independence Square, Victory Square, the National Flag Square, Pryvakzalnaja Square, and Yakub Kolas Square;
  • at a distance of less than 200 meters from the buildings of the residence of the President of the Republic of Belarus, the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, and the Council of Ministers;
  • at a distance of less than 50 meters from the central government bodies, local representative, executive and administrative bodies, diplomatic missions and consular offices, courts, prosecution bodies, territories of organizations providing national defense and state security.

"Therefore, since the regulation does not provide for a direct ban on picketing at markets, respectively, any restrictions are illegal,” said the lawyer.

This is not the first time that members of Liabedzka’s initiative group face obstacles during the campaign. On July 23, a UCP activist Alina Litvinchuk was detained at the Brest railway station while carrying 100 certificates for local campaign activists. As a result, however, she faced administrative charges of cooperation with foreign media without accreditation and soon released.

"Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections"