The Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center "Viasna" within their joint campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" released the first observation report on the National Referendum scheduled for February 27, 2022
the referendum is taking place against the backdrop of a profound socio-political crisis that began immediately after the 2020 presidential election and the pervasive atmosphere of repression targeting those disloyal to the authorities, as well as a tense international situation caused by the possible armed conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, as well as the current Russian-Belarusian military exercises;
the authorities have not made any attempts to eliminate the factors in the legal regulation of electoral procedures that led to the onset of the post-election crisis in August 2020;
the draft amendments to the Constitution, which were first announced by the authorities more than two years ago, became available to the public less than a month before the referendum was called; during this period, the authorities organized a discussion of the draft, mainly at government-owned businesses and organizations, which in reality constituted campaigning;
the process of discussing changes and additions to the draft Constitution and considering the submitted proposals did not take into account critical opinions and was another example of the formal practice of “nationwide discussion”, designed to replace a transparent and inclusive debate on proposals from various groups of society.