Belarus elections coverage: press review
The September 28 parliamentary polls predictably grabbed Belarus media attention this week, with two questions in focus: if at least one opposition member made it to the parliament and how the West would evaluate the elections.
Now that the outcome has been annouonced, many took a breath of relief or dispair: there is no single opposition member in the House of Representatives! “We were deceived", opposition leaders said in interviews in the morning of September 29. A certain political commentator even mentioned to Radio Svaboda “backstage talks with Europe"...
The presidential newspaper Sovietskaya Belorussia quoted political analyst as saying that being in opposition was not the best quality of a member of parliament: “In my view, it is a bit surprising that discussion has boiled down to the question why opposition candidates had not made it to the parliament. I believe it is not worth getting stuck with the question the representatives of which forces won seats. The main thing is to see the pluralism of thoughts and concrete ideas in the legislature… “Partisan coloring” or its absence are not of pricnipal significance”. To confirm it, one seven members of political parties -- six pro-government Communists and one member of the Agrarian Party -- were allowed to win MP seats…
But Ann Marie LIzin, the head of the monitoring mission from the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly, told Belapan that "despite minor improvements, the election fell short of OSCE standards".
After this statement, undeterred pluralism burst out on the pages of the state-run media. Respublika newspaper wrote that Alexander Lukashenka's attitude towards observers was reserved but positive: "The President of Belarus called on OSCE observers not to hurry with the assessment of the parliamentary elections in Belarus under dictation of a certain country. Meeting with Ann-Marie Lizin, Alexander Lukashenka stressed that the Belarusian side "did not expect revolutionary recognitions”. He said that Belarus was expecting Europe to lift all the sanctions because Belarus's role in WWII and the Chernobyl strategy…
Lidzia Yarmoshyna, the chairperson of the Central Election Commission, also offered backing to the head of Belarus. “While we counted for warmer words in the OSCE conclusions (yet I have been waiting for those words for 12 years), they bring optimism”, the official news agency Belta quoted Yarmoshyna as saying.
Political analyst Aliaksei Belyaev on Channel One (Belarus state television) mentioned pluralism, talking about Western observers: “The decision will of course depend on many factors, and the OSCE will formulate it later. No doubt, they will hold consultations in Brussels and other capitals".
Television channels especially tried to express pluralism. Opposition candidates Ales Mikhalevich and Yaraslau Ramanchuk had initially been invited to appear on ONT's live talk show Vybar (Choice). But when they failed to make to the parliament, they did not appear on TV screens.
But pluralism is pluralism… Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarus wrote in this regard: "The European Union has a choice to look at numerous minuses or rare pluses. It is a win-win situation".
Publicist Viktar Matrsinovich commented to the same newspaper that all the parties lost in this "election": Europe, the government and the opposition candidates”.
Surprisingly, no-one mentioned that voters lost the most. They are those who were deprived of a fair choice, objective information and free debates.