Elections in Brest: observers and ballot manipulations

Выбары ў Брэсце: назіральнікі за назіральнікамі і маніпуляцыі з бюлетэнямі

During the 2015 presidential election, independent observers in Brest mostly complained about the vote count procedures. They believe the work of election commissions was not transparent, and it was hard for the observers to carry out their direct duties. Ihar Maslouski, a trustee of the presidential candidate Tatsiana Karatkevich, shared his impressions about the campaign with Euroradio. According to the activist of "Tell the Truth", compared with previous elections, new mechanisms were used against independent observers this year to hinder their activities.

"The most notable thing is, probably, that when our observers wrote complaints about violation of the law, the pro-government observers wrote complaints about our observers allegedly interfering with the work of the commission," says Maslouski.

A local human rights activist Uladzimir Vyalichkin, who this year was an observer at one of the sites in Brest, agrees with his colleague's comment. According to him, the aim of the pro-government observers was not to monitor the voting process, but monitor their "independent counterparts."

Vyalichkin: "In my case, the situation was exacerbated by the fact that the chairwoman of the commission is the director of the kindergarten #53, and the observers are employees of the same kindergarten. That is not only in Brest election commissions are composed of representatives of staff, but these people put forward their own observers."

But the activist of the "Movement" For Freedom" Dzyanis Turchanyak was not looking for some new mechanisms in the work of election commissions. The observer, on the contrary, used the experience gained during the previous campaigns and together with his colleagues had a "controlled vote."

Turchanyak: "We did it in three polling stations. The experiment was in putting an empty sheet of paper in the box instead of ballot during early voting, and then come to this station as an observer and see how it is reflected in the commission report. As a result, two sites were missing these empty sheets in the boxes, and the number of ballots corresponded to the number of people who came to vote, although there was supposed to be a shortage."

The activist believes that at the two sites where he conducted the experiment, the boxes were opened illegally in advance. Turchanyak believes that the box in the third site remained intact, because it was attended by the OSCE observer.

Dzyanis Turchanyak filed a complaint to the prosecutor's office with a demand to conduct an audit and an investigation into the forgery of ballot papers and deliberately wrong vote count.

Witness of a curious violation became the observer Iryna Sinyapkina. During the counting of votes, she saw Election Commission counting votes for Lukashenka from the spoiled ballots.

 "The chairman of the commission takes out three ballots. Each of them has a sign against the candidate, but Lukashenka is marked by a special sign (for example, X). Chairman tells the Commission: "Let us recognize this newsletter valid because, apparently, person wanted to vote for Lukashenka, but made a mistake..."

In addition to comments related to the procedure of vote count, observers note the use of administrative resources. This was particularly noticeable in the sites where students voted.

Photo: BELTA