Candidates under pressure as election campaign begins in Belarus

The campaigning for candidates in the elections to the House of Representatives has begun: the state radio and television broadcast speeches of candidates, and special pickets appeared on the streets of cities. But there have been incidents.

The first campaign pickets and the first incidents were held in the streets of Minsk: activists of the “European Belarus” campaign were ordered to stop the picket soon after it began.

Syarhei Lavor started picketing to support for his associate from “European Belarus”.

“A girl with a folder came up, showed her ID card and said that we had no right to stand here. In fact, our candidate had just filed an application that day, and while he was being approved for two days, we had no right to stand here,” said the activist of European Belarus, Syarhei Lavor.

The activists of “European Belarus” were the first to organize street campaigning and picket for Artsyom Charniak — one of the 7 held in Minsk, and continued it, ignoring the pressure.

Yauhen Afnahel, coordinator of the “European Belarus”:

“The consideration of registration was postponed to the last hours of the last day, although we had filed the documents 10 days earlier. And it turns out that it was on October 17th that a decision was made — we can’t do anything yet, on 18th they issued certificates, but we also can’t do anything, because we don’t have time to submit reports on pickets. And we lose 3-4 days of our legal right to campaign”.

Other participants of the election race also testify to the notorious hybrid struggle with opposition candidates. Thus, two members of the United Civil Party from Babruisk and Dubrouna did not manage to reach the regional centers in time to make a recording of the speech on television. There are other obstacles as well.

“There’s a very interesting situation when three candidates in different regions of the country – in Babruisk, Minsk region and Minsk – including Mikalai Kazlou – who decided to open a candidate’s account, then the program “froze” – half a day was lost for the candidates. And in this regard, there are suspicions that it may be a means to take away half a day from the candidate,” said spokesman for the United Civil Party
Hanna Krasulina.

Some candidates from other parties, such as the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada), refused to appear on state radio, not believing in its popularity among citizens, and thus in its effectiveness.

Experts say that the election to the House of Representatives is a good preparation for a more significant election campaign — the presidential elections in Belarus which will be held in a year.

Halina Abakunchyk,