Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт


Viciebsk observer: “there were fewer restrictions at previous elections”

Vadzim Kuzmin is an observer with much experience. This is not the first electoral campaign observed by him.

“After the opening of polling station No. 47 in the Kastryčnicki district I asked to be allowed to take a photo of the seal on the ballot box, and received a refusal, whereas during the previous elections I was allowed to do it. I also asked to be allowed to sign the paper, by which the slit on the box was sealed, and was also refused. I was told that only the head of the commission or his deputy, and a member of the commission had to sign there. Yes, they had! But there is no prohibition for other people, for whom signing there is not demanded by the law, but is their personal wish. However, I wasn't allowed to do it. Neither was I allowed to keep duty near the premises for voting, so that I could watch the intactness of the ballot box,” told Mr. Kuzmin.

His questions to the election commission were the “classic” ones that were recommended for study during the training for precinct election commissions, whose scenario was published at the website of the Central Election Commission. According to this scenario, the heads of the commissions are taught to answer that the duty of guarding the ballot boxes belongs to policemen and nobody else. It wasn't discussed at the training whether observers could take photos of the seal on the ballot box. Meanwhile, such a request doesn't contradict to the legislation. Nevertheless, the observer received a denial.

Vadzim Kuzmin also has many questions to ballot box at polling station No. 47:

"The box is transparent, but the top is attached by screws. It is enough to unscrew them, after which one can manipulate the ballots without breaking the seal or removing the paper, by which the slit on the top is sealed. That's why I asked the commission to seal the top of the box in order to exclude possibilities for manipulations of the results of the voting, but was also denied.”

The only request of the observer which was met was the replacement of the sample of filling the ballot. The tick on the sample ballot was standing opposite the surname of the third candidate for presidency, whereas according to the alphabet the third place at these elections is taken by Aliaksandr Lukashenka. By the way, such sample ballot, with a tick opposite the third surname, is also demonstrated on the state TV. However, the sample ballot was replaced at polling station No. 47.

Another circumstance noticed by Mr. Kuzmin is an extraordinary hight turnout on the first day of early voting:

“Students of Technological University, living in dormitories nearby, are voting at my precinct. They say that they were “strongly recommended” to vote early. It seems that the students are taken for voting in groups. At least, I saw that a whole crowd of students coming to vote. However, not all of them were registered at his precinct. It seems that all of them were ordered to go to the precinct without checking their places of residence.

Well, here are some numbers for comparison: by 2 p.m. on October 6, 120 people voted at my precinct, mainly youth, whereas in the neighboring precinct No. 46, where ordinary citizens are registered, it is some 5-10 people only.”

"Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections"