Tag Archives: elections

MEPs CALL for new elections in Belarus

17.09.2020, Brussels. MEPs call for new presidential elections in Belarus and urge the EU to sanction President Lukashenko.

In a resolution adopted by 574 votes in favour, 37 against with 82 abstentions on Septembere 17, the European Parliament rejects the official results of the “so-called presidential elections” in Belarus on 9 August this year, as these elections were conducted in a “flagrant violation of all internationally recognised standards”. Once the term of office for the incumbent authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko expires on 5 November, Parliament will no longer recognise him as the president of the country.

In the meantime, MEPs welcome the recently established Coordination Council as an “interim representation of the people demanding democratic change” in Belarus that is open to all political and social stakeholders. They also reiterate the many calls for new, free and fair elections to take place as soon as possible under international supervision.

MEPs call for EU sanctions against the group of individuals responsible for falsifying the election results and for the violent repression in Belarus, including President Lukashenko, and call on EU member states in the Council to implement these restrictive measures without delay, in close coordination with international partners.

MEPs also staunchly condemn the mass arrests and ongoing violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, strike leaders and journalists in the country, with many reports of ill-treatment, rape and torture emerging from
Belarusian detention centres and jails.

The resolution finally underlines the important contribution made by prominent female opposition members, led by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Veranika Tsapkala and Maria Kalesnikova, during the protests. It demands the immediate release of the arrested members of the Coordination Council and all those arbitrarily detained for political reasons.
The text notes that many Belarusians consider Tikhanovskaya to be the winner of the presidential elections and Belarus’ real president-elect.

EU: Belarus elections «falsified»

The EU Foreign Ministers addressed the Belarusian Presidential elections that took place on 9 August.

“Ministers reiterated their repeated call to the Belarusian authorities to stop the disproportionate and unacceptable violence against peaceful protesters. The EU expects the authorities to release immediately all unlawfully detained persons. In light of shocking reports of inhumane treatment and detention conditions, the European Union expects a thorough and transparent investigation into all alleged abuses, in order to hold those responsible to account.

“During their discussions, the Ministers sent a strong signal of the EU’s support to the Belarusian population in their desire for democratic change. The Ministers noted the exceptional work of the domestic election observers, whose reporting, in the absence of international election observers, has been crucial in helping to reveal the true picture regarding last Sunday’s elections. They discussed how to support this vital work.

“The Ministers reiterated that the elections were neither free nor fair. The European Union considers the results to have been falsified and therefore does not accept the results of the election as presented by the Belarus Central Election Commission. The European Union will therefore put forward to the Belarusian authorities a proposal for EU support in in establishing and facilitating a dialogue between the political authorities, opposition and broader society in view of resolving the current crisis. The High Representative/Vice-President and his services will begin work on this proposal immediately.

“Ministers also agreed on the need to sanction those responsible for violence, repression and the falsification of election results. The work on additional listings within the existing sanctions framework for Belarus will start immediately.

“The Ministers expressed appreciation for the work of journalists in the difficult conditions that they are facing and condemned attacks on and detentions of journalists, including EU citizens.

“The Ministers agreed to revert to reviewing EU-Belarus relations at their upcoming informal meeting end of August. As part of this review, the European Union will look at how to increase its support to the Belarusian people, including through enhanced engagement with and financial support to civil society, additional support to independent media, and increasing opportunities for student and academic mobility”.

Image: archive

Belarus: Leyen calls for «additional sanctions»

«We need additional sanctions against those who violated democratic values or abused human rights in Belarus» wrote the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on her Twitter micro blog.
«I am confident today’s EU Foreign Ministers’ discussion will demonstrate our strong support for the rights of the people in Belarus to fundamental freedoms & democracy».

The European Union foreign ministers are gathering today, August 14, via teleconference to discuss the situation in Balarus, and possible sanctions against Alyaksandr Lukashenko regime for brutal crackdown on peacful demonstrators in the aftermath of widely disputed announcement of presidential election result, attributing to the incumbent President 80% of votes.

Ahead of an EU foreign ministers extraordinary meeting in Brussels on August 14, Belarusian authorities began releasing hundreds of detainees early in the morning.

Many of those released described horrible conditions in detention facilities, beatings, and other mistreatment, while Amnesty International said the accounts suggested “widespread torture.”

At least two protesters have died and some 6,700 people have been detained since nationwide protests erupted on August 9 after the state TV announed the reliminary results, showing Lukashenko winning a sixth term with 80% of vote.

The claim was rejected by opposition candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who was forced to exicle in neighbouringc Lithuania.

EU diplomacy extraordinary Council on Belarus

EU foreign ministers will convene via teleconference on Friday, August 14, to discuss the situation in Belarus following the announced re-election of Alexander Lukashenko with 80% of ballots, and immediatley following accusations of fraud.

The Swedish top diplomat Ann Linde said she had received an invitation to participate in an extraordinary ministerial meeting with the EU foreign ministers where, she added, the question of possible sanctions against Minsk will be debated.

The European Commission said on August 11 it was reviewing its relations with Belarus following the disputed re-election of the Belarusian president, declared the triumphant winner.

August 10 Germany called on EU member countries to discuss sanctions, and Poland proposed an immediate action to defend Belarus citiezens against violent crachdown of the peaceful protests undertaken by the authorities in the aftermath of the disputed elections.

Image: social media

Borrell condemns violence in Belarus

The Presidential elections took place in the Republic of Belarus on 9 August. The European Union had repeatedly expressed its expectations on the proper conduct of these elections.

“The election night was marred with disproportionate and unacceptable state violence against peaceful protesters. This reportedly resulted in the loss of life of one citizen and many others have been injured. We condemn the violence and call for the immediate release of all detained during last night. The Belarusian authorities must ensure that the fundamental right of peaceful assembly is respected” reads the Joint Statement by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi on the Presidential elections in Belarus.

“Following their unprecedented mobilisation for free elections and democracy, the Belarusian people now expect their votes to be counted accurately. It is essential that the Central Electoral Commission publishes the results reflecting the choice of the Belarusian people.

“Only upholding human rights, democracy, and free and fair elections will guarantee stability and sovereignty in Belarus. We will continue to closely follow the developments in order to assess how to further shape the EU’s response and relations with Belarus in view of the developing situation”.

Protesters and riot police have clashed in Minsk and other cities, after a state TV exit poll said long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner in Sunday’s election.

Police used stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannon. A human rights group said one protester was killed and the are hundreds of arrested, however due to the internet disruptions there are significant difficultes to obtain full information about the police actions.

According to the state media Mr Lukashenko won 80% of the vote, based on the preliminary count.
But the main opposition leader has Svetlana Tikhanovskaya refused to recognise the results.
“We have already won, because we have overcome our fear, our apathy and our indifference,” Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said.

The preliminary results give her 9.9% of the vote, but her campaign said she had been polling 70-80% in some areas.
Ms Tikhanovskaya entered the election in place of her jailed husband and went on to lead large opposition rallies.

Mr Lukashenko, 65, has been in power since 1994.

Image above: BelsatTV

Belarus: Lukashenko announced 80% eleciton winner

Protesters and riot police have clashed Minsk and other cities of Belarus, after a state TV exit poll said long-time leader (26 years) Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected in Sunday’s election.

In Minsk, the police used stun grenades to disperse crowds in the city centre. There have been reports of injuries, however in abesence of funcitonal internet connectivity the full picture of the police action has not been established yet.

The state TV exit poll showed that Mr Lukashenko won nearly 80% of the vote.
Main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said she had no confidence in the figures announced which gave her 7%.

“I believe my eyes, and I see that the majority is with us,” she said at a news conference after the TV annoucement evening.
The opposition had said it expected the vote to be rigged, saying it would keep an alternative count of the votes.

Ms Tikhanovskaya, 37, entered the election in place of her jailed husband and went on to lead large opposition rallies.

Mr Lukashenko, in power since 1994, has vowed that the situation in the country will remain “under control”.

Lukashenko in whirlwind of political crisis

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is Europe’s longest-serving ruler and the 65-year-old former Soviet collective farm chairman now wants a sixth term as president.
But in the run-up to the 9 August presidential election he has faced the biggest opposition protests for a decade.

“An authoritarian style of rule is characteristic of me, and I have always admitted it,” he said in August 2003. “You need to control the country, and the main thing is not to ruin people’s lives.”

There have been hundreds of arrests in a wave of demonstrations since May.

Lukashenko has been in power since 1994, with an authoritarian style reminiscent of the Soviet era, controlling the main media channels, harassing and jailing political opponents and marginalising independent voices.

The powerful secret police – still called the KGB – closely monitors dissidents.
On 30 July tens of thousands rallied in the capital Minsk in support of political novice Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, now his main rival.

She stepped in to challenge Mr Lukashenko after her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky, a popular blogger, was firstly barred from running for presidency and then sent to jail.

A referendum in 2004 lifted the two-term limit on presidents, paving way for Lukashenko to stay life-long President of Belarus.
Lukashenko is self-made man from humble origins raised by a single mother in a poor village in eastern Belarus.
He is married to Galina Lukashenko, with whom he has two adult sons, Viktor and Dmitry, however she has been always out of public life. In spite of the fact of being separated for decades, he told an interviewer in 2015 that he had no intention of divorcing Galina.
He has a third son, Nikolai (Kolya), born in 2004, whose mother Irina Abelskaya was Mr Lukashenko’s personal doctor. It is still unclear if the mother has un opportunity to see her son, there is a predomiant public opinon among Belorussians that Abelskaya was denied any contacts with the boy. The child has been exposed to public to such an extend that many analysts suggested Lukashenko aims to restore monarchy and pass the presidency to his youngest son.

However recently in an interview to the Ukrainain press Lukashenko has denied his allegations and said that he did not with to see his youngest son Nikolai as president and is not preparing him to be his successor.

Answering the reporter’s question whether he would like Nikolai to assume the office of president, Lukashenko said, “No, no. My Kolya is unlikely to ever be president.”

In his address to the parliament which lasted exactly one and a half hours, Lukashenko covered the essence his entire election program.

The President promised not to allow a return to the “dashing 90s”, insisted on absence of alternative to evolutionary (on contrary to revolutionary) development, exposed the incompetence of opponents and urged against expecting «miracles».

At the same time, he paid a lot of attention to Russia: in particular, he made it clear that fraternal relations were in the past – and through the fault of Moscow, not Minsk.

Russia has always been, is and will be our closest ally, no matter who is in power in Belarus or Russia. This is an overwhelming factor. It is deep within our peoples. This is deep within our peoples, even though Russia has exchanged fraternal relations with us for partnerships. In vain! “ Lukahsenko underlined.

Talking about the rival candidates the President said: “Found these three unfortunate girls (the joint opposition headquarters: Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Veronika Tsepkalo, Maria Kolesnikova). They don’t understand what they are reading. What are you writing to them? “

“Let’s hold unfair elections, release economic, political, drug addicts, criminals, hold fair elections and live”.

“But at least tell them that it is not the president in Belarus who calls the elections. That after the unfair elections the Belarusian parliament will never plunge the country into a series of election campaigns and will not appoint the next elections. Think about it at least. What are you writing to them? They don’t understand what they are saying and what they are doing. But we see who is behind them.”

Borrell urges Belarus to respect political rights

The presidential elections in Belarus will take place this Sunday, 9 August, and early voting has already started.

“During the electoral campaign, the Belarusian people have shown unprecedented political mobilisation in favour of free elections and democracy. The peaceful mobilisation of the society has been met so far with unacceptable further restrictions on freedoms of media and assembly, as well as with detentions of peaceful protesters, domestic observers, journalists and activists, reads the Statement by High Representative Josep Borrell ahead of the Presidential Elections.

The country’s sovereignty and independence can only be strengthened by peaceful, free and fair elections. The EU continues to call on the Belarusian authorities to ensure that fundamental freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, in line with Belarus’ international commitments, are respected.

“The EU appeals to the Belarusian authorities to guarantee the exercise of full political rights of the candidates, to avoid using force against peaceful protesters, to refrain from further detentions of elections observers, peaceful protesters, candidates and members of their teams and immediately release all activists, human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists detained on political grounds.

“The EU remains committed to strengthening its engagement with the Belarusian people. We support the independence and sovereignty of Belarus, while human rights and democracy will remain at the forefront of the EU’s considerations when shaping its policy towards the country”.

EU regrets Babaryka «arbitrary» exclusion

On 14 July, the Belarusian Central Electoral Commission announced that Siarhei Cherachen, Andrei Dzmitryev, Hanna Kanapatskaya, Aliaksandr Lukashenka and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya were registered to stand in the Belarusian Presidential elections on 9 August. However, Viktar Babaryka was denied registration on the grounds that inconsistencies were allegedly found in his income and property declaration, and Valery Tsapkala was denied registration due to an alleged insufficient number of valid ballot access signatures and failure to disclose the ownership of Priorbank shares in the income and property declaration by his wife. Both candidates had reportedly collected more than 100,000 signatures, as prescribed by the national legislation.

The lack of transparency in the process of verification of the signatures supporting the presidential candidates, as already noted by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) in 2010 and 2015, undermines confidence in the registration process. Moreover, the legal provisions for candidate registration pose disproportionate and unreasonable barriers to candidacy, contrary to OSCE commitments and other international standards.

https://twitter.com/petras_petras/status/1283032743853592582?s=21

The European Union regrets that the recommendations by OSCE/ODIHR to include substantial procedural and legal safeguards that enhance inclusiveness, integrity and transparency during all stages of the electoral process, in particular to introduce clear and reasonable criteria and mechanisms for candidate registration and signature verification have not been implemented. The EU expects Belarus to officially invite the OSCE/ODIHR without delay to observe the upcoming presidential elections.

The seemingly arbitrary exclusion of candidates limits the possibility for the Belarusian people to express their will and already undermines the overall integrity and democratic nature of the elections. By denying the registration of Viktar Babaryka and Valery Tsapkala the Belarusian authorities have failed to ensure a meaningful and competitive political contest.

The EU expects Belarus to respect the Belarusian citizens’ rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the weeks leading up to the elections.

The EU remains committed to strengthening its engagement with the Belarusian people and civil society. We support the independence and sovereignty of Belarus, but human rights and democracy will remain at the forefront of the EU’s considerations when shaping its policy towards the country.

EU on Serbia elections

Serbia held parliamentary, provincial and local elections on 21 June; one of the first elections held in Europe since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

While contestants in Serbia’s parliamentary elections were able to campaign and fundamental freedoms were respected, voter choice was limited by the governing party’s overwhelming advantage and the promotion of government policies by most major media outlets, according to the preliminary findings and conclusions of the international observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

The European Union looks forward to the OSCE/ODIHR final report and recommendations for future elections to be issued in the coming months. We expect all political actors and relevant institutions to engage in a transparent, decisive and inclusive dialogue on the implementation of these recommendations to address long-standing electoral shortcomings well ahead of the next elections.

We encourage the new parliament to continue to engage in the inter-party dialogue led by the European Parliament, with a view to forging broad cross-party consensus on EU-related reforms, which is vital for the country’s progress on its EU path. We also encourage the Serbian leadership to engage in a genuine dialogue across the political spectrum to take forward important reforms on the rule of law, fight against organised crime and corruption.

The European Union looks forward to engaging with the next government to take forward swiftly the urgent reforms necessary for Serbia’s EU accession. This concerns in particular the rule of law, which lies at the heart of the accession process and should be at the forefront of the next government’s political priorities, and socio-economic reforms, crucial for post COVID-19 pandemic recovery. We also count on Serbia’s continued full engagement in the EU-facilitated Dialogue as well as regional cooperation more broadly.

As Serbia’s top donor and investor, and its most important trade and economic partner, the European Union is fully committed to continue supporting Serbia’s EU accession process as well as economic recovery following the coronavirus crisis, including through the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans due in the autumn.

Image: Belgrade, Serbia

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