Opposition's problems in lead up to election

July 24 was the last day for filing applications for the registration of candidate nomination groups with district election commissions. ERB asked politicians about problems they have encountered so far in the run-up to this fall's parliamentary election in Belarus.
Anatol Lyabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party (UCP), says that difficulties emerged in Nyasvizh and Mahilyow because the United Pro-democratic Forces (UPF) had to make last-minute changes to the composition of local candidates' nomination groups

In Luninets, opposition parliamentary nominee Vital Karatysh has been drafted into the army in a matter of two days. Yuras Hubarevich, leader of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF) in the Brest region, says, "It was an unprecedented case in terms of call-up speed. He was ordered to report for physical examination yesterday and is to be assigned to a unit today."

BPF Deputy Chairman Alyaksey Yanukevich runs in District N92 for the forth time after three unsuccessful attempts. He says that some 600 ballots went missing during the 2003 election. Surprisingly, the district election commission admitted the fact in its report. In 2004, Yanukevich was disqualified the day before voting.

Syarhey Salash, who also took part in earlier elections in Barysaw, accuses local officials of fraud. He says that to deny him ballot access, officials visited people who endorsed his bid and asked them to sign a blank sheet of paper. Later, they printed on it that the person allegedly denied endorsing Salash's candidacy.

Mikalay Statkevich, leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party "Narodnaya Hramada," recalls that during an earlier election, some members of opposition candidates' nomination groups in Vitsyebsk region lost their jobs, while unemployed members were offered jobs in return for quitting the opposition camp.

"If you want to lose your job, you should join a nomination group. If you want to find a job, you should also join a nomination group because jobless members were offered employment in return for quitting the group," Statkevich told ERB.

Most opposition candidates believe that the vote count will be unfair.

Pro-Lukashenka aspirant Viktar Huminski, deputy chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security, declined to comment on his chances in the forthcoming race. "I cannot assess anything. The election will assess everything," he said.

Photo — Belorusskiye Novosti