MEPs concerned over pre-election crackdown on opposition figures, activists in Belarus

The election campaign has seemingly started off with a nationwide crackdown on peaceful protesters and civil society activists, MEP Robert Biedroń, Chair of the EP’s Delegation for relations with Belarus, and MEP Petras Auštrevičius , the EP’s Standing Rapporteur on Belarus, said in a joint statement.

The authors referred to the facts of detaining dozens of participants in meetings with opposition vlogger and might-have-been presidential candidate Syarhei Tsikhanouski.

“We are deeply worried by the persistent discriminatory approach to the composition of the territorial election commissions, as the number of opposition parties’ nominees admitted to these commissions has significantly dropped compared to previous elections. A well-balanced composition of the commissions is a safeguard for genuinely free and democratic elections. Last but not least, we are disquieted by the Central Election Commission’s decision to reject, on technical grounds, the registrations filled by some prominent opposition figures,” the statement reads.

Election-2020: ‘Protest candidates’ denied registration, some allegedly detained

The MEPs urged the Belarusian authorities to create the conditions for a real level-playing field between the candidates, and to address the long-standing recommendations made by the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR, including those related to the blatantly unbalanced composition of territorial election commissions, administrative chicaneries during the candidacy registration process and the lack of transparency during the counting process.

They also called for providing protective personal equipment for election personnel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, adjusting the voting facilities to guarantee health and safety of participating citizens and ensuring undisturbed work of the election observers.

‘Admiration for courage and resolve’: MEPs address people of Belarus