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16.01.2014

Valancin Stefanovich: Ballot trike does not violate Constitution 26

15:18, — Politics

Valancin Stefanovich: Ballot trike does not violate Constitution

The country’s main law allows boycotting elections.

The commentary came from the deputy head of the Viasna human rights center Valancin Stefanovich. This is how the human rights activist commented for the charter97.org web-site on the ban on calling for not participating in elections.

“First, the change that took place in the electoral legislation, in no way concern the electoral process. This means that the recommendations that we and the OSCE have always insisted on were not considered. Very different things were considered. In 2012, when the opposition chose the tactics of boycotting the elections and registration candidates, who subsequently called for a boycott, Jarmoshyna said that “some dishonest candidates found loopholes in the legislation with the purpose of undermining the elections”. She then said that this should be regulated, and the CEC’s resolution eliminated urges for a boycott from electoral agitation. At the moment we were saying that the law stated that agitation, including calling for a boycott, were only forbidden on the day of the voting. This means that agitation and urges for a boycott, which by the law were a part of the agitation, were not forbidden”, - the lawyer pointed out.

The human rights activist believes that calls for participating or not participating in elections are a part of political debate.

“If I believe that our elections are bad and people should not take part, why cannot I be free in my statements regarding the situation? Of course, some examples may be given, saying that there is a fine for not participating in elections in Australia, but there are no such norms in European countries. And we are again getting 14years back to the situation of 2000. Before 2000 there was a responsibility for calling for boycotting elections. What happened, that opposition used the tactic? Next time we will use something different”, - Valancin Stefanovich said.

Viasna’s deputy chairman added that the authorities put call for a boycott in line with such things as war or hatred propaganda etc.

“This is a part of the political debate, it cannot be put in the same line with other things, agitation for which is forbidden. I mean calls for violence, war, racial, national, religious or social hatred”, - the human rights activist is convinced.

The lawyer emphasized that however it is Belarus’ Constitution allows not participating in elections regardless of whether there is a boycott campaign or not.

“If you urge the neighbor to boycott elections, this will be treated as a violating of the electoral legislation, but by this you in no way violate the Constitution. In my opinion, the ban on calls for a boycott is a sort of survival of the Soviet times. Then everyone participated in elections 100%, and of course if someone called for boycotting Soviet elections, this was perceived anti-state activities, for which people were taken to prison or mental institutions for many years. Only a madman could speak against “the most fair and just Soviet elections”, - Valancin Stefanovich summarized.

We would remind that changes have been recently introduced into the electoral legislation, according to which a ban is established on boycotting elections, financing of the candidates’ electoral campaign ceased, and the 50% turnout threshold cancelled.