Partners in crime
0:05, Natallia Radzina, editor-in-chief of charter97.org — Politics
Dictator Lukashenka is playing a horrible game with the opposition and even international observers.
During the 18 years of his rule, Aliaksandar Lukashenka has been struggling to get his dictatorship recognized. On September 23, 2012 he can finally succeed. The players from the so-called opposition and the crowd of observers do a good job playing their roles in the monstrous play staged to reinforce the dictator, and to drive Belarus away from the civilized development for years.
Let’s see the chronicle of the elections farce in Belarus from the very beginning – 1995.
May 1995: the referendum used by Lukashenka to illegally change the state symbols. The referendum wasn’t recognized by the international community. The OSCE PA said that international standards had been breached during the voting. The referendum was criticized by the US government. The Russian Duma accepted the results and welcomed the new status of Russian as a state language.
November 1996: the referendum that changed the political system in Belarus, and that was used by Lukashenka to usurp the power. The referendum was totally rejected by the international community. In the early 1997, following the referendum, the EU limited its contacts with Belarusian high officials and froze the current agreements. Russia accepted the voting results.
October 2000: the ”parliamentary elections”. The majority of the opposition boycotted the elections to the institution that had ceased to be legitimate in 1996, after the Supreme Council had been dismissed. International observers who had found violations claimed that the elections didn’t follow OSCE standards and that the opposition candidates had been pressed. In Minsk and many other cities the number of people who came to vote was too low. Russia accepted the elections.
September 2001: the presidential elections. According to international observers, Lukashenka didn’t get enough votes to win. International observers didn’t recognize the results of the elections. Russia and observers from the CIS recognized the voting and said that its results “are an expression of will of the Belarusian people”:
October 2004: the ”parliamentary elections”. The elections were not recognized by international observers who reported about repressions against the opposition and international media and noted that the votes were not counted openly. OSCE observers said that “the parliamentary elections in Belarus roughly violate the OSCE principles and obligations”. Russia and the CIS observers recognized the elections.
October 2004: the referendum on withdrawal of limitations to become president for Lukashenka. The referendum was held simultaneously with the “parliamentary elections”. There was no international observation of the referendum, but the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe made a clear conclusion that a part of the referendum question “directly contradicts the Electoral code.” According to independent observers and independent polls, Lukashenka failed to gather 50% of the votes necessary to change the constitution. Russia and the CIS observers recognized the results of the referendum.
September 2008: the “parliamentary elections”. During the elections, international observers noted “certain improvements”; first of all, the release of the political prisoners. However, the elections were not recognized since the OSCE standards were violated. Russia and the CIS observers recognized the voting.
December 2010: the presidential elections. The international community was very critical regarding the falsifications and violence used during the elections. After a break, Russia recognized the results of the elections.
Summing up: since 1995, none of the elections and referenda held in Belarus has been recognized by the institutions empowered by the international community, which includes Belarus, to observe elections and give evaluations. During this time, hundreds of reports, monitoring, analytic materials, and studies on the falsifications of the Belarusian elections have been prepared and presented. Thousands of violations and falsifications have been documented. International observers have learnt all methods that the Belarusian regime uses to provide the desired voting results.
There are no elections in Belarus – both the opposition and international observers have come to this conclusion for a long time ago. After December 19, 2010, this conclusion has become much harder: under the disguise of “elections”, a crime against the nation is being committed in Belarus.
After December 19, 2010, it became clear to everyone: there can be no elections in a dictatorship.
Nevertheless, the regime has once again started to play elections. The game has never been more cynical. This time, it’s not about getting the results of the “elections” recognized or organizing some kind of election process. There’ll be no loyal deputies in the “parliament”. It is about legitimizing Lukashenka’s right to commit these crimes. For that, the dictatorship needs the opposition to take part in the “election”, and international observers – to be present at the voting.
There are two key features of these “elections”:
- this is the first time the elections are held while such a high number of political prisoners are in jail. Furthermore, during the “electoral” campaign the tortures and humiliations of the political prisoners have escalated. The worst of all is that the OSCE and Europe have accepted this situation.
- this is the first time there’ll be no significant protests from the opposition after the elections. The repressions have nearly totally destroyed the opposition, who is presently incapable of protesting against the lawlessness in the streets.
The results of the elections will not be recognized. But the dictatorship doesn’t need a recognizance. Moreover, Russia didn’t even care to wait until the voting is complete and has already recognized the results and accused OSCE observers of bias. On August 15, the Russian minister for foreign affairs met with Lukashenka and promised to provide a positive evaluation of the “parliamentary elections” in Belarus, despite all the attempts of the OSCE to “compromise” them.
“Russia will do everything to make sure that the evaluation of the parliamentary elections in Belarus is objective, unbiased and will not become an object of some one-sided, far-fetched rules imposed by the OSCE.”
However, after the elections the regime will try hysterically to get the results recognized, using these formal arguments: the participation of the opposition in the “election”, international observation, no mass protest against the results.
Meanwhile, nobody can be sure about the lives and health of the political prisoners.
Today the question of whether to take part in the election farce is beyond the morality. Taking part in the elections equals taking part in the dictatorship’s crimes. This concerns the international observers, too.
Natallia Radzina, editor-in-chief of charter97.org
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