Сhanges in Belarus possible only after holding really free election

It has been stated today at a press-conference in Minsk by leaders of the Belarusian opposition Andrei Sannikov, Lyavon Barshcheuski, Viktar Ivashkevich and Zmitser Dashkevich. The results of the “parliamentary elections” have been rigged, the voting turnout was warmed up several times. A real people’s boycott of the electoral farce has taken place in Belarus.

The leader of the Belarusian Popular Front party Lyavon Barshcheuski has started the press-conference with an analysis of the “electoral campaign”. The politician was rather self-critical:

“Now we are analyzing the situation which has taken place. The recent campaign for elections to the “chamber of representatives” has confirmed obvious things. There is no “parliament” as the supreme legislative body of the country in Belarus. The campaign that has taken place was nothing but an electoral farce, and among other things, such an element as a just votes count was absent there. Our responsibility is that our party hasn’t been able to gain our political point. The society has notices the helplessness and needlessness of such a body as the “chamber of representatives” better then us. An analysis of the information received from independent observers all over the country, demonstrates that the majority of our population has ignored this “election”. This has happened at a great number of polling stations, even despite of desperate attempts of the regime to force voters to take part in the early voting. Testimony of observers shows that that the turnout was very doubtful. The society has said to the regime and opposition: we do not need your “elections”, and our task was to sense this mood in the society, and to make a decisive step.

The voting turnout would be even less if representatives of the democratic forces would use their right to withdraw after the regime denied the right to work in district commissions for most oppositionists. The right decision would be to refuse to participate in the so-called “election campaign”. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened. The political responsibility for that belongs to the leaders of the political parties, and primarily the Belarusian Popular Front party. We have yield to the pressure from outside and from inside the party, and were not able to demonstrate necessary political will. The role of the leader of “For Freedom” movement Alyaksandr Milinkevich in that was negative. He hadn’t been authorized by anybody to evaluate the degree to which the well-known 12 conditions of the EU had been fulfilled, and to call upon reducing their number,” stated the leader of the Belarusian Popular Front party Lyavon Barshcheuski.

The politician has called upon the democratic forces to focus on struggle for holding in the country really free and just elections.

“Using international and internal pressure, the democratic forces must concentrate on achieving necessary changes in the Electoral laws: ban of early voting, participation of democratic activists in the electoral commissions at all level; wide use of transparent ballot boxes, lifting political restrictions on activities of the oppositional mass media. I would like to emphasize that on this issue I had a long conversation with Zyanon Paznyak, and he defends the same position as well. In this connection I would like to dissociate myself from the statement of the leader of the Party of Belarusian Communists, Syarhei Kalyakin, who says as a defeatist that the presidential election are most likely to be held under the same conditions as this one. This shouldn’t be allowed. We must fight,” Lyavon Barshcheuski said.

The politician has noted that in the near future the Belarusian Popular Front party is set to mobilize wide forces for holding the memorial rally “Dzyady”. An agreement has been reached with Zyanon Paznyak on common holding the rally.

The leader of the “Young Front” Zmitser Dashkevich was critical about the intention of political parties to take part in the “parliamentary elections” till the end, and said that the announced aim of the parties, to reach voters, hasn’t been achieved.

“Many leaders of the democratic forces who called upon going till the end in the election campaign, showed themselves as persons poorly acquainted with the Belarusian reality. First we had a common list of 110 candidates. It was planned that the democratic forces would be able to become an alternative to the regime in each constituency. And what do we see as a result? After collection of signatures 15 constituencies are left “bare”, 30-35 constituencies were “bare” after the registration. The democratic forces that have taken part in the “elections”, have been able to cover only 2/3 of the constituencies. I think that the leaders of the parties who had been urging to go all the way, should assess their actions more critically. The election campaign, the farce they have been taking part in, has failed. And the main point used them against boycott campaign –let’s go to the voters, — hasn’t been fulfilled. They haven’t reached the Belarusian voters. A nominal campaign has been carried out, there was more of individual candidates’ self-promotion.

The Belarusian authorities must hear a clear, concrete position of the democratic forces. European and American politicians can be enthralled by illusions that Lukashenka fulfils what he has promised. We do not have such illusions, and understand that Lukashenka obeys only the language of ultimatums. We formulated such an ultimatum: boycott to lies,” “Zmitser Dashkevich” noted.

Deputy head of the Belarusian Popular Front party Viktar Ivashkevich warned the West against recognition of the new Belarusian “house of representatives”:

“Non-recognition of the parliament is not a final decision. It is a problem for the Belarusian democratic society, because recognition of the “house of representatives” can mean that remark of Lukashenka, who said that the opposition would live from some months to a year, and then it would disappear, may lose its figurative meaning and become true. So, it was said about Hanchar and Zavadski. Recognition of the “house of representatives” may make this threat real and will be considered by Lukashenka as carte blanche for his activity of destroying the opposition and its physical disappearance. I think, we should explain our partners from democratic countries that this play with the dictator can cost not only prestige, but also lives of many people in Belarus,” Viktar Ivashkevich said.

Leader of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Andrei Sannikov said there were all grounds to say that the Belarusians voters had boycotted the so called “parliamentary elections”.

“I’d like to thank all participants of the “Boycott” campaign, because repressions against them were tighter than those against MP candidates. We have all grounds to say that boycott was successful, voter turnout failed. Data of observers, MP candidates, opposition leaders, among them Syarhei Kalyakin and Anatol Lyabedzka, prove it. We know, for example, that voter turnout failed in Homel, where the observation was good. The same was said by Zyanon Paznyak, the Conservative Christian Party had its observers there. It is important to note that the society wasn’t interested in these “elections” and an idea of boycott was adopted by the society,” the politician said.

Andrei Sannikov turned attention to the fact that one of the objecitves of the boycott was not to allow the “elections” to be recognised by the international community.

“The recent events have demonstrated again that the regime didn’t change, in spite of the promises, and non-recognition of the “elections” was and is among the aims of the boycott. Why is this so important now? Because dictatorial privatisation is being prepared, because there are amoral business circles in the European Union, in the West and the East, which are interested that privatisation in Belarus was conducted for their benefits. We can’t allow it, we must say flatly and resolutely about it: no results of further privatisation will be recognised. We will do our best in order for this not to be recognised,” the leader of the “European Belarus” noted.

According to Sannikov, it is necessary today to seek changes in holding of elections in Belarus.

“We must seek changes in conditions of elections. What is called early voting, can’t be considered to be voting at all, because voting is free expression of the will of citizens. But can enforcement and administrative pressure over voters be called free expression of the will? Objectives, tasks and activity of political parties and civil society must be focused on changes of conditions of elections holding. Because nothing will happen in the country without really free and democratic elections. We must attain free elections,” the politician noted.