Belarus: Belarus to use semitransparent ballot boxes, e-voting | BelTA

Belarus plans to use semitransparent ballot boxes and electronic voting in the future, Chairperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Belarus Lidia Yermoshina said in an interview to the STV channel, BelTA has learned. “We are gradually introducing different standards. Some things we have not introduced yet are no longer used in other countries. For example, we have always been pressurized to use transparent ballot boxes everywhere. I can say that this is no longer in fashion. Moreover, it contradicts the international standards. Transparent ballot boxes do not secure the secret expression of voters’ will. Today’s trend is to use semitransparent boxes and apply e-voting. I believe we will be introducing this in the future,” Lidia Yermoshina said. Speaking about the rotation of the parliament, the CEC chair said that the head of state insists on some one third of MPs to stay for the second term. At the same time, the term of office for every MP should not exceed two terms in a row. “We support and select future candidates taking into consideration all the proportions,” she stressed.

Belarus: ‘It’s easier to hack an election than eBay’: confessions of a Belarusian hacker | The Guardian

According to Sergei Pavlovich, one of the Russian-speaking world’s most notorious hackers, “it is easier to hack an electoral system than eBay or Citibank”. The Belarusian cyber-criminal known as Policedog online started hacking early on, and by the age of 20 he says he was earning $100,000 a month as a “carder”, turning stolen credit card information into cash. By the early 2000s he was one of the leading figures in the Russian and Eastern European cyber-underworld. In an exclusive interview Pavlovich, now 33 and with a 10-year jail term behind him, gives a rare insight into a community that has been accused of carrying out aggressive cyber-activity on behalf of the Kremlin. Allegations that the Russian government deliberately hacked Democratic party emails to try to steer Donald Trump to victory in the US presidential election have been rebutted by the now president and denounced as “baseless” and “amateurish” by the Kremlin.

Belarus: Activists unmoved by election of two opposition MPs | The Guardian

Opposition candidates have won seats in parliamentary elections in Belarus for the first time since 2000, though critics of the ruling regime said they had been “appointed” to appease the west, and independent observers reported widespread vote-rigging. Anna Konopatskaya, of the United Civic party, won a district in Minsk, and Yelena Anisim, of the Belarusian Language Society, also won a seat. Anisim’s opponent, Yelena Zhuravlyova, a regime loyalist, unexpectedly withdrew from the race last month. Leading critics of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 22 years, were unimpressed.

Belarus: Opposition wins at least one seat in rare gain | BBC

At least one opposition candidate has won a seat in parliamentary elections in Belarus, their first representation in the chamber for 20 years. The Electoral Commission said Anna Konopatskaya of the United Civil Party won one of the 110 seats being contested in the lower house. Lawmakers loyal to hard-line President Alexander Lukashenko are expected to occupy most remaining seats. Opposition candidates were able to enter more easily than earlier votes. The opposition’s participation in the election is a concession to Western calls for more transparency in Belarus, correspondents say. External monitors were also given access to the vote count.

Belarus: With eye on West, Belarus votes in slightly freer election | Reuters

Lawmakers loyal to hardline Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko look set to retain power in an election on Sunday, but the easing of restrictions on opposition candidates could help the ex-Soviet nation further improve ties with the West. The opposition, which has not been represented in the 110-seat parliament since 1996, is not expected to win any seats, but in a concession to Western calls for greater transparency its contenders have been able to register more easily. External monitors will also be given access to the vote count. Relations between Minsk and the West have warmed since recession-hit Belarus held a peaceful presidential election last October.

Belarus: Election ‘neither free nor fair,’ says UN human rights expert | United Nations News Centre

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, today said that while the Presidential polls conducted in the country this past Sunday were not met with violence as in previous cases, no progress was made in serving the Belarusians’ right to free and fair election. “The election process was orchestrated, and the result was pre-ordained. It could not be otherwise, given the 20 years of continuous suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, which are the preconditions for any credible competition,” Mr. Haraszti said in a press statement. The Special Rapporteur noted that none of the international and local independent election monitors could verify the official claims of 86 per cent voter turnout or 84 per cent endorsement of the incumbent. “Such high scores have never been claimed in elections in Europe since the end of the Soviet Union,” Mr. Haraszti stressed. “The observers’ documentations highlighted that not even the four days of coerced participation of prison inmates, army conscripts, and public servants under the label of ‘early voting,’ can give up the stated numbers,” he added.

Belarus: Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus Wins Fifth Term as President | The New York Times

Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the authoritarian president of Belarus, who suffered the indignity last week of seeing one of his sharpest critics win the Nobel Prize in Literature, won a prize of his own on Sunday: the presidency of Belarus, though that outcome had never been in doubt. Mr. Lukashenko, a former collective farm director who has led Belarus for 21 years, got nearly 83.5 percent of the vote, the Central Election Commission reported late Sunday, trouncing three token competitors and winning a fifth term.

Belarus: Europe’s last dictator | The Economist

The crisis in Ukraine has been painful for nearly everyone involved. Russia finds itself under sanctions and at loggerheads abroad. NATO faces as grave a challenge as any since the cold war ended. And Ukraine itself, dismembered and drained by war, struggles to recover even as the fighting in the east of the country grinds to a halt. Yet one clear winner has emerged from the mess: Alexander Lukashenko, the mustachioed strongman of Belarus, to Ukraine’s north. Mr Lukashenko is a former collective- farm boss who has ruled Belarus for 21 years. He stands for his fifth consecutive presidential term on October 11th. To no one’s surprise, he will win. Known as “Europe’s last dictator”, he travels everywhere with his 11-year-old son, who packs a golden pistol and expects to be saluted by Belarusian generals. Elections in 2010 ended with a violent crackdown on protesters and the jailing of Mr Lukashenko’s rivals. The European Union imposed sanctions and travel bans for top officials, including Mr Lukashenko. Yet he approaches the vote feeling secure at home and enjoying a renaissance abroad. He has Ukraine to thank.

Belarus: Presidential Elections: Will They Actually Count the Votes? | Belarus Digest

On 11 October, Belarus will hold presidential elections. The Belarusian authorities try to create an image of democratic elections at a time when Alexander Lukashenka looks weak due to the economic recession. Realistically no one expects a fair vote count. The official results will be produced to bring victory to Alexander Lukashenka. But there are three things that can significantly change the perception of the campaign: access to the vote count, the number of votes against Lukashenka and the post-election period. These elections differ from the 2006 and 2010 presidential elections. Although the nature of the political regime remains the same: a small amount of opposition in election commissions, forcing students and civil servants to vote in advance or lack of system liberalisation, many minor improvements have actually taken place.

Belarus: Presidential Elections in Belarus: Why the West Should Not Hold Its Breath | Belarus Digest

On 1 September the Central Elections Committee of Belarus announced that four presidential candidates had submitted enough signatures to run in elections scheduled for 11 October this year. Although few question the outcome of this elections and the official victory of the incumbent President Alexander Lukashenka, the elections take place in a very different geopolitical context. In the 2010 presidential elections, the authorities saw the Belarusian opposition as the main threat and crushed protests, putting several presidential candidates in jail. After the recent events in Ukraine the authorities seem to view Russia as a more serious threat although they would not publicly admit it. Belarus only had real elections during a brief period of competitive politics in the early 1990s, prior to the election of current President Alexander Lukashenka in 1994. This is why for many Belarusians, particularly older generations, elections are not an opportunity to change their leadership but something of an old ritual.

Belarus: Presidential election set for Oct. 11 | Associated Press

The parliament of Belarus decided Tuesday to set the next presidential election for Oct. 11, about a month earlier than originally planned. The decision intensified a debate among opposition parties on whether to put forward candidates for an election all but certain to be won by Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the former Soviet republic with an iron grip since 1994.

Belarus: Election set for Oct. 11, Lukashenko poised to run again | Reuters

Belarus on Tuesday named Oct. 11 as the date for a presidential election which is almost certain to usher in a new five-year term for veteran Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko, 60, who has been in power in the ex-Soviet republic since 1994, has said several times he will stand for what will be a fifth consecutive term in office. Lukashenko has been ostracized by the West for most of his rule because of alleged human rights abuses and his clampdown on political dissent which has eradicated any real political opposition. His re-election for a fourth term in 2010 brought huge street demonstrations which were dispersed by riot police. Several opposition candidates were beaten up and detained and dissenters rounded up.

Belarus: After Rigged Elections, Belarus Opposition Expresses Despair | Newsweek

Aware of the possibility that the secret police were listening in, Belarussian dissident Anastasia Palazhanka whispered to the visitors: would they help her arrange her wedding to her fiancé, an imprisoned leader of the Young Front opposition? Palazhanka, a 21-year-old honored by Hillary Clinton last year with the prestigious International Women of Courage award, was conferring with observers from the Organization for Security and Co–operation in Europe (OSCE), who were on hand to monitor parliamentary elections in the former Soviet Republic. They’d dropped by the Soviet-era Hotel Yubileinaya in Minsk to listen to opposition members who -wanted to air concerns about the rule of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarus: Russia approves Belarus elections despite opposition boycott | GlobalPost

Sunday’s elections in Belarus might not meet international or western standards, but Russia gave its stamp of approval today. Voters made “a conscious choice” during the nationwide poll, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to Voice of America. President Alexander Lukashenko’s ruling party swept the elections after opposition parties boycotted and suggested voters stay home. According to the Belarus Central Elections Commission, more than 74.3 percent of those eligible voted.

Belarus: Boycotted Belarus election declared valid |

Enough residents voted in otherwise-boycotted Parliamentary elections in Belarus to make the results valid, the country’s Central Election Commission has declared. The commission ruled Sunday that more than 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the elections for all 110 seats in the Belarus National Assembly, the nation’s lower house of Parliament, RIA Novosti reported. The country’s two main opposition parties — the United Civic and BPF parties –boycotted the polls because of alleged fraud, urging voters to skip what they called “pseudo-elections” for the “rubber-stamp” lower house.

Belarus: Elections in Belarus: lack of neutrality, competitiveness and impartiality | New Europe

Elections to appoint the House of Representatives in Belarus took place on 23 September 2012. According to the preliminary conclusions of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and their Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) AND OSCE PA* international observers in the country, the elections were not administered in an impartial manner and the complaints and appeals process did not guarantee effective remedy. Furthermore, the preliminary report seems to indicate that the lack of neutrality and impartiality on the part of election commissions severely undermined public confidence in the process, while the lack of proper counting procedures or ways for observers to verify the results raised serious concerns.

Belarus: Polls close in Belarus election amid boycott | Al Jazeera

Parliamentary elections in Belarus have ended without the country’s main opposition parties taking part, following calls for a boycott on grounds of irregularities and illegal detentions. Poll closed at 8pm local time (17:00 GMT) having opened 12 hours earlier. The news comes as the Central Election Commission declared the parliamentary vote valid with a turnout of at least 65.9 per cent, while independent monitors have suggested a far lower turnout at 30 per cent. The main opposition parties said official claims that turnout was 65.9 percent even before polls closed were wildly out of step with reality. “The election commission is unscrupulously lying as these figures are so radically different from those of observers,” Vitaly Rymashevsky, co-chairman of the Belarus Christian Democracy party, told the AFP news agency.

Belarus: Opposition boycott and apathy threaten Belarus election | Reuters

A Belarussian parliamentary election on Sunday is likely to reinforce hardline President Alexander Lukashenko’s grip on the small former Soviet country despite a boycott call from the dispirited opposition. The two main opposition parties have urged people to go fishing and mushrooming rather than vote in what they see as a sham exercise to produce a chamber which largely rubber-stamps Lukashenko’s directives. But four days of early voting by students, armed service staff and police in the tightly-controlled country have already produced a 19 percent turnout, according to official figures, and there was no question of the boycott threatening the overall turnout threshold and the validity of Sunday’s ballot. The outcome will enable Lukashenko to present the election as a genuine democratic process. Western monitoring agencies have not judged an election in Belarus, ruled by Lukashenko for 18 years, free and fair since 1995.

Belarus: Belarus denies visas to two European poll observers | The Financial

Belarus has denied visas to two observers who planned to monitor Sunday’s parliamentary polls in the isolated country for the OSCE mission, Europe’s security and rights body said Wednesday. “Two parliament members from Germany and Lithuania who planned to observe the elections were told they would be denied visas” by the Belarussian foreign ministry, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly said. Visa denials to European lawmakers from international observer missions are extremely rare, and the last time Minsk barred foreign observers was in 2006, said spokesman for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Neil Simon. Simon named the two banned observers as Marieluise Beck from Germany and Emanuelis Zingeris from Lithuania.

Belarus: Foreign Ministry says denial of visas to OSCE election monitors not related to elections | Kyiv Post

Belarus’ decision to deny entry visas to two members of the OSCE election observation mission to monitor parliamentary elections slated in Belarus for Sept. 23 is not related to the elections as such, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said. “These two people are foreigners whose entry to the territory of the Republic of Belarus is unwelcome. This has absolutely no relation to the observation of the elections,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh told Interfax.

Belarus: Go fishing on election day, Belarus opposition urges people | Reuters

Belarus’s two main opposition parties said they would boycott a parliamentary election next Sunday, denouncing it as a fake exercise and are calling on people to “go fishing or visit your parents” instead. The poll for the 110-seat chamber takes place two years after police cracked down on street protests after a presidential election which installed hardline President Alexander Lukashenko for a fourth term in power. Scores of opposition activists were arrested in the December 2010 unrest and many people, including several candidates who stood against Lukashenko, were handed prison terms. “Honest people cannot take part in pseudo-elections to a fake parliament,” Anatoly Lebedko, leader of the United Civic Party, said at a weekend rally at which the party announced it was withdrawing its 38 candidates from the election. “I know I shall not be elected. And that is in no way because people will not vote for me,” said Grigoriy Kostusev, deputy head of the Belarussian People’s Front, which also opted to pull its 31 candidates out of the poll.

Belarus: Two opposition parties withdraw from Belarusian parliamentary election | Montreal Gazette

The Belarusian opposition is withdrawing its candidates from this weekend’s parliamentary election. The country’s election commission confirmed on Monday that the United Civic Party and the Belarusian National Front have removed the names of their candidates. The election is slated for Sunday but early voting starts on Tuesday, and people are allowed to vote early without giving any reason for it. Ballot boxes stand unguarded at polling stations for days, which observers have long described as an immense source for violations.

Belarus: Milošoski: Election campaign in Belarus is slow |

The head of the mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Antonio Milošoski stated that the parliamentary campaign in Belarus with the elections to take place literally in a couple of days runs with “the very low level of activity.” According to him, the mission finishes the interim report about the election campaign in Belarus.
The head of the ODIHR mission said that the report will contain information about the legal aspects of the elections, media issues, candidates’ registration and about all the rest that happened during the election campaign, reports BelaPAN. The report will be available for public on September 13th. As Antonio Milošoski noted, at the moment the mission’s representatives are still analyzing the information incoming from the ODIHR long-term observers in the regions. In the near future the information will be systemized and then presented.

Belarus: Parliamentary election campaign takes off |

Parliamentary election campaign in Belarus took off on August 23rd, as the Secretary of the Central Election Commission of Belarus Nikolai Lozovik announced. According to him, there are candidates, who got their registration certificates on August 22nd, although according to the schedule, district election commissions can issue the certificates within two days following the registration. “Parliamentary candidates that obtained the registration certificates could start campaigning for themselves literally upon exiting the building, where a meeting of the district election commission was held,” Nikolai Lozovik said. Almost all commissions had the candidates registered on August 22nd, stated the CEC Secretary, as BelTA reported.

Belarus: Opposition leader banned from election | Kyiv Post

Election officials in authoritarian Belarus have banned a prominent opposition leader from running in the upcoming parliamentary elections. A district election commission in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, alleged Wednesday that 15 percent of supporters’ signatures Alexander Milinkevich submitted to get on the ballot were forged. Milinkevich said the decision was triggered by the “fear” of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the nation of 10 million since 1994.

Belarus: Belarusian Opposition in “Status Quo” Survival Mode | Belarus Digest – News and Analysis of Belarusian Politics, Economy, Human Rights and Myths

While the presidential election campaign of December 2010 saw a revival of dynamism and interest in the opposition in Belarus, the subsequent violent clampdown ended hope of an opening in Belarus. The opposition, rattled and weakened by these events and continued government pressure, has not been able to turn the economic crisis, mismanagement by the government and falling ratings of Alexander Lukashenka to their advantage. Instead, the opposition parties since the elections have been in “status quo” survival mode. Dependent on modest Western aid, they have been caught up primarily in their own parallel political reality. Disengaged from the wider population, they have missed opportunities such as the economic crisis to explain how their plans would positively impact individuals in society. Meanwhile, a resurgent “political middle” is now more disappointed with Lukashenka’s leadership than ever before.

Belarus: 2012 Parliamentary Elections: Boycott or Participation? | Belarus Digest

In September 2012, Belarusians will be asked to elect a new parliament. Opposition is still deciding whether to take part in the elections. They are not sure for a good reason – election fraud has become common practice in the country at all levels. Although Lukashenka recently announced that he would implement political reforms, no one is taking his words seriously. The regime opponents choose from two options – boycott or participation. Boycott would help to delegitimize the elections in the eyes of the international community while active participation could be used as a good opportunity to train activists and to deliver their message to the people.

Belarus: Protesters in Belarus call for fresh and free elections | Deutsche Welle

Around 1,000 protesters took the streets of the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on Saturday to demonstrate against the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko and his handling of the country’s worst economic crisis in years. The protesters rallied in the center of Minsk where they called on the government to halt price inflation, free political prisoners and hold free elections.

“Lukashenko has led the country into a political and economic catastrophe,” rally organizer Viktor Ivashkevich said. Minsk has sought to devalue its currency, the ruble, in order to make its exports cheaper and boost its struggling economy. The devaluation, however, has pushed up food prices. Last month, the government lifted restrictions on food prices altogether.

Belarus: Sannikov’s Statements are Groundless says Belarus Election Commission Head Yermoshina |

Head of Belarus’s Central Election Commission Lidia Yermoshina sees no legal grounds for the second round of presidential elections, while the statement of imprisoned former candidate Andrei Sannikov are baseless, as she believes. “Applications on recognizing the elections null and void shall be submitted within three days after the polling day,” she pointed out.

“But if to assume that Mr. Sannikov was in “places not so remote” at that time and was unable to apply, then such a statement was filed by one of the candidates – Mr. Kastusiou. This application was considered at the CEC meeting summing up the elections results. It was recognized groundless and consequently rejected. Mr Sannikov provides no additional facts and is unable to. Therefore, all Sannikov’s statements are a desire to draw the attention of the international community to the situation, as well as to push a criminal case in the political sphere,” said Lidia Yermoshina, reports “European Radio for Belarus.”