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Belarus’ CEC warns two presidential candidates

The Central Election Commission of Belarus has issued warnings to presidential candidates Vitaly Rymashevsky and Nikolai Statkevich for organizing and carrying out an unsanctioned public event in the center of Minsk. The decision was made at the 30 November session of the Central Commission for Elections and National Referendums of Belarus on 30 November.

Secretary of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Belarus Nikolai Lozovik explained that the candidates had been issued warnings for violating election regulations during pre-election campaigning. In particular, they had been warned for holding an unauthorized meeting in Oktyabrskaya Square in Minsk on 24 November.

“The Central Election Commission has papers to prove that Vitaly Rymashevsky and Nikolai Statkevich organized and carried out an unsanctioned public event in Oktyabrskaya Square in Minsk on 24 November. They were aware that the event was illegal because the Prosecutor General’s Office had warned them against violating election laws beforehand,” said Nikolai Lozovik. In his words, the candidates violated article 45 of the Election Code. The article regulates the holding of public events. The candidates also ignored the resolution of Minsk City Hall that determined the places where campaigning was allowed. In line with the resolution campaigning is allowed virtually everywhere except for four squares, including Oktyabrskaya Square.

Nikolai Lozovik remarked that despite the illegality of the public event it did not entail any negative consequences for its participants. It had to do a lot with correct and wise actions of law enforcement agencies.

At the session CEC members with consultative authority, who represent presidential candidates, suggested that Oktyabrskaya Square should be made available for campaigning. However, the Central Election Commission turned down the proposal citing that the local executive authorities had been suggested expanding the list of places where presidential candidates can meet with voters many times. The local authorities have been responsive to the CEC recommendations. In many towns the list of places available for campaigning has been extended but it is impossible to extend it endlessly.

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