The nature of the “election” and their result is quite clear today. The number of only 0.07% of democrats out of the total number of precinct commissions’ members vividly demonstrate that the regime is not going to lose control over the chief element of the elections: votes’ count. At the same time opposition representatives make about 40% of the total number of candidates to deputies, the leader of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Andrei Sannikov writes.
Even in 2004 the opposition had 0.2% in precinct election commissions. How many oppositionists have been elected to the parliament in 2004? None. And at that time much more pro-democracy candidates were nominated.
This year the proportion is almost the same, but not quite. Twice as little candidates have been nominated. It is evidence that there is no desire either to participate in such “election”, or to vote. Even the chairperson of the Central Election Commission Lidziya Yarmoshyna complains that people won’t come to ballot-boxes. But there is one more circumstance which differs this year from the year 2004: the weight of the opposition’s decisions is much heavier. Representatives of democrats, who make 40% of the total number of the candidates, can adopt an important decision, which would demonstrate the real power of the opposition. If democrats withdraw from the “elections”, there would be one candidate in almost a half of constituencies, and the plan of the authorities which is aimed at guaranteeing recognition of the regime, would fail totally. Then a serious discussion on holding real elections and return of Belarus into the European family would start.
Without a right to vote
Amazing things happen with dictatorships. Representatives of the democratic world in some time” get tired” of defending their own principles, they get bored of fighting for human rights, and they seem to be ready to agree that the path to democracy goes through a dictatorship. It is hard to explain in other way, why international observers believe it is a step forward that opposition representatives without a right to vote are present in the Central Election Committee. Is it really a democratic breakthrough that spectators have been invited to the show in the CEC? Considering that our parliament is not a real parliament, but a sham cell subordinate to the executive power, and the people are deprived of the right to vote, the opposition in the CEC without a voice is indeed a loud achievement of democracy.
The main question is: how to return to people voices and the right to elect their leaders. It can in no way be achieved through becoming a member of the CEC without a right to vote, without a possibility to control votes’ count at the elections to the parliament which is subordinate and kept by the dictatorship.
Elections or privatization
Actually, this “election” in Belarus has attracted great attention to our country not because a chance for democratization appeared (and it has appeared), but because the hard situation could make the dictatorial regime to sell out the possessions of the state. And everybody understands that with the existing international reputation of the regime and while the market economy is absent, property will be sold cheap. Business is business. Adventurous businessmen from the West could come to Belarus just on the basis of the regime’s promises and predictions of forthcoming economic reforms. But what for, if little means could be spent on political lobbying and international recognition of the dictatorship could be prepared. There was an experience of that: the same was with the USSR, with Latin America dictatorships, and then with Central Asian regimes. However businessmen understand perfectly well that there chances to survive in Belarus have exact numerical value: 0.07%. It is equal to the number of oppositionists allowed to join precinct elections commissions. But if the political smoke-screen in the form of the regime’s recognition would be guaranteed, then the risk’s magnitude would not be important. In case of failure all expenses could be covered by one’s own states, using state insurance of investments, saying something like “We haven’t been warned that there is a dictatorship there”. In general, today shifting the responsibility for all expenses of private business of democratic states on to governments of these states is being lobbied. Why everybody is so excited? Such an administrative economic wonder like in Belarus is unprecedented for thousands of kilometers either to the north, or to the south, or to the east, not speaking of the west. Nobody wants to be late for dividing into parts the Belarusian “pie”.
Russians are coming
And in the interim in the world around us Russia invaded independent Georgia and does not want to leave. For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union under a pretext of defense of its “own” citizens and its interests, has carried out invasion and liked it. And Lukashenka liked that as well, judging by his statements. First he seemed to be frightened, and kept silent, but after a reprimand from the Kremlin he found touching words about the aggression’s “beauty”, so that even Russian leaders were taken aback. They couldn’t have invented such words. They were stunned, but noted to remember that. If the person is so sensitive to the international situation, he won’t disagree if a few divisions with nuclear arms would be sent to him, let us say, to finish the harvesting campaign successfully. And then they would be kept there to ensure introduction of the single currency and carrying out privatization in a right way.
From the point of view of creation and supporting the personal rule regime, Lukashenka manoeuvred on the Russian field rather successfully, promising indestructible devotion and strategic permissiveness. Today his possibilities to maneuver are extremely narrowed, and Russia is demanding to pay the accounts more and more insistently. Besides, the energy blackmailing has become a habitual instrument of the Russian policy in the world. How the upcoming “elections” would help to solve not just problems, but real threats to Belarus’ independence? What could the participation of the opposition in the rightless parliament do for defense of our independence? Should we speak about participation in the regime’s scenarios at all, while they are aimed only for defense of Lukashenka’s personal power? The game according to the rules imposed by the regime and international mediators between the money and dictatorship could be too dangerous.
What does it mean, to go all the way
For today there are two approaches to the election which is to take place in a month: a boycott and participation. The party opposition has discussed the situation several times, trying to adopt the most advantageous decision, put forth conditions which haven’t been accepted by the regime, however decided to take part in the “election”. Despite of the repressions, the oppositional parties have taken a full-fledged participation at all stages of the electoral campaign: nomination of candidates, collection of signatures, nomination of candidates to electoral commissions of all levels. The final stage is left, the election itself. It is decided to take part in the vote with a message about a necessity of a civil control over the authorities. It is really necessary now. It is extremely important today, in order to prevent robbing the country, and prevent Belarus’ drawing into military plans of Russia. But participation in pseudo-elections won’t make us closer to solving the problem of civil control, but on the contrary, would decrease influence of the opposition. Participation in the “elections” according to the scenario of the regime will be recognition of the regime’s “democratic character”, and vest it with all the necessary authority for further decisions, which could be exceptionally dangerous for Belarus. And it is unlikely to be a goo excuse later, that “we were taking part in the electoral farce to the end”.
Not to let the occasion slip
The release of Alyaksandr Kazulin, Andrei Kim and Syarhei Parsyukevich has caused new hopes in the society. Solidarity with the political prisoners inside the country, international demands to release them and the sanctions imposed by the US for violation of human rights have made the Belarusian authorities release the innocent prisoners of conscience. It has been done in the run-up to the elections obviously, with the expectation that such a noticeable and undoubtedly positive step would become the main argument in favour of the regime’s recognition. However, the release of political prisoners does not influence the nature of the “election”, which remains undemocratic.
The release of political prisoners should be used not as a bargaining chip in the negotiations with the west, but as an impulse for real transformations in the country. It is crucial to think how to carry forward advance.
The huge work done by the parties, candidates and their teams mustn’t be used by the regime and some foreign advisors in their scenario which is disastrous for the opposition and for the country. Today it is said almost openly what this bargaining is about: one seat for the opposition in the “chamber of representatives”. It is simply humiliating. It is humiliating that behind the back of the Belarusians illegal forming if the parliament is discussed in fact. It is humiliating because the opposition is given a role of an actor with a non-speaking part, not of a subject of the politics.
Today there are all possibilities to achieve real changes in the situation in Belarus to the better. People are not interested in the elections. Nobody is speaking about the elections anywhere outside discussions inside the opposition about its participation or non-participation. People do not pin their hopes for changes on electoral farces. They are tired of observing them for many years. We shouldn’t deceive people and the international community by participation in this farce, and we shouldn’t help reinforce the dictatorship. None of the conditions put forth by the opposition for its participation in the elections has been fulfilled. But it has demonstrated its strength: 40 per cent of the candidates are on the positions of the democratic forces. The time has come to demonstrate one’s power. We shouldn’t use such a serious potential for one deputy- democrat, authorized by the dictator.
A decision in principle to withdraw all democratic candidates and not to participate in the electoral farce is needed. It is necessary to demand holding really free elections of the parliament and the president, to defend one’s demands on the Square. The conditions for holding the new elections should become an issue for holding direct negotiations between the opposition and the regime with the mediation of international organization. Everybody will gain from that, and primarily the people of Belarus.