Belarus

CEC turns down opposition groups’ applications and hinders opposition candidates from running for the Presidency

Opposition activists protest against CEC's decision to disqualify their nomination groups. May 15, 2020. Image source: Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

 

The Central Election Commission has registered 15 groups formed to support the nominations of future presidential candidates. These include the incumbent Aliaksandr Lukashenka, former Belgazprombank CEO Viktar Babaryka, ex-MP Hanna Kanapatskaya, BSDH party leader Siarhei Cherachen, United Civil Party chairman Mikalai Kazlou, and Tell the Truth leader Andrei Dzmitryeu.

The presidential hopefuls now have 30 days to collect 100,000 signatures to support their nominations.

However, the CEC came under attack after it turned down 40 applications, mostly by opposition activists associated with former political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich, who himself is ineligible to run due to a 2010 criminal conviction.

CEC chair Lidziya Yarmoshyna said the activists knowingly submitted ineligible bids in an attempt to undermine the work of the commission.

Statkevich’s associates appealed today against the CEC’s decision, but the Supreme Court predictably sided with the election authorities. 7 people were arrested during the hearing after they came to support the claimants. Plain-clothed police officers entered the courtroom and took them away, said Statkevich’s wife Maryna Adamovich, who also lost her appeal today.

The electoral authorities also disqualified critical blogger Siarhei Tsikhanouski, who was unable to submit his application in person after he was arrested on May 6 and sent to serve 15 days of administrative detention. The penalty is said to be related to his involvement in the December 2019 anti-integration protests.

The CEC, however, registered his wife, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

Human rights defenders say the blogger was imprisoned to prevent him from running for President. During his stay in the detention center in Homieĺ, Tsikhanouski was sentenced to 30 more days in prison.

Siarhei Tsikhanouski was unexpectedly released yesterday after serving the initial sentence. However, he faces new charges for organizing meetings with his subscribers across Belarus.

 

A detailed report on the registration of nomination groups by the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections can also be found here

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