Belarus: repression ahead of presidential elections

In the whole of white Russia, there has been spontaneous protests after the election Commission had not approved of the presidential candidate Viktor Babariko a

Belarus: repression ahead of presidential elections

In the whole of white Russia, there has been spontaneous protests after the election Commission had not approved of the presidential candidate Viktor Babariko and Valeri Zepkalo. The authorities arrested more than 250 people who had demonstrated. Observers speak of the police actions that are with the suppression of the protests of 2010 are comparable. From the DW interviewed German experts believe that the current election campaign is markedly different than campaigns in the past.

The intimidation starts even before the election

"there used to be immediately after the elections, repression, as in the year 2010. Before elections, we have not seen anything yet," said Stefanie Schiffer, Director of the Berlin-based human rights organization European exchange, compared to the DW. The situation in white Russia (Belarus) peak in the run-up to the presidential elections at the beginning of August, more and more. Many citizens would be intimidated.

Marco fever agrees with. He is the Chairman of the German section of Libereco - Partnership for Human Rights, an independent German-Swiss non-governmental organization that is committed to the protection of human rights in Belarus. "The biggest Surprise is the incredible number of arrests prior to the election date", so a fever in the DW-Interview. Since may, there have been 900 arrests. Again there were political prisoners - about two dozen.

The authorities act as they would fear

Stefanie Schiffer, according to this year's election of the former by the fact that several opponents of the since 1994, incumbent authoritarian heads of state Alexander Lukashenko has not been approved as a presidential candidate and at the election not to participate is different. "The exclusion of Babariko, as well as the Zepkalo a doubt from a legal point of view, misty step, deprived of the Belarusian voters of their rights. Both in the West as well as in the white-Russian population of the impression that the authorities are afraid," said Schiffer arises.

The election Commission had excluded Viktor Babariko of a candidacy, although he had more than the necessary 100,000 signatures of supporters submitted. The former head of Belgazprombank, which belongs to the Russian company Gazprom, sits on the grounds of alleged illegal business practices in pre-trial detention. Human rights activists have criticized the prosecution as politically motivated. The 56-year-old Babariko was considered to be Lukashenka's most promising opponent.

Due to allegedly not in a sufficient amount of signatures collected, the former Belarusian Ambassador in the USA, the popular opposition politician, Valeri Zepkalo, from a presidential candidacy was excluded. Were approved, however, in addition to Lukashenko, four candidates, including unexpected Svetlana Tichanowskaja, the wife of the detained Video Bloggers, Sergey Tichanowski, originally wanted to stand.

Harsh prison conditions for the opposition

In 2010, Libereco had launched a campaign for the release of political prisoners. Also now the organization wants to make the EU on the situation in Belarus closely, explains Marco fever. According to him, there are rumors, to suffer what Tichanowski under harsh conditions. "Completely, you can not prevent this, but the Belarusian authorities must at least be aware of the fact that you look away in the EU and look at what is happening in the prisons and on the streets."

He believes, Babariko had not been approved as a candidate, because he can mobilize many voters would have. "Tichanowskaja the start of the now quasi as the only real opposition candidate, will surely get many votes. But you can't mobilize publicly, because her husband is in prison and she has said that she has received threats against their children. You will interact with the handbrake cautious and not to call in advance and on election night protests.", so fever.

Foreign election observers are not

invited, unlike the previous elections in Belarus, there will be probably no international observers, suspected Stefanie Schiffer, European exchange. 15. July it became known that the OSCE will send in due to a lack of invitation, no observers.

"This has never happened, international observers gave it always. The Belarusian election Commission has taken this decision in connection with the Coronavirus. It is not clear, however, why elections are held, but none of the observers can be invited," she said.

the EU is not ruled out sanctions

Against the Background of the events that Schiffer does not exclude the European sanctions against Belarus as early as 2010: "We hope that the sanctions that the Regime will change its tough stance. Even if that doesn't sound very realistic."

Last week, have already explained a number of deputies and of the us and EU sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko and his environment could be considered. "The EU should draw from the premature lifting of sanctions in 2016 to Teach and always be ready to impose new," said Robert Biedron, the head of the Delegation of the European Parliament for relations with Belarus.

The Federal government is monitoring the situation closely and has expressed but, as yet, restrained. Dirk Wiese, coordinator for intersocietal cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the countries of the Eastern partnership, stressed in an interview with DW, the latest development will be viewed with great concern: "We call on the Belarusian government, election observers. Everything else that could possibly be pending in the case of an ongoing violation of free and fair elections, we will discuss with our European partners."

author: Olga Kapustina, Nikita Batalov (mo)

*The contribution of "white Russia: repression ahead of presidential elections" published by Deutsche Welle. Contact with the executives here.

Deutsche Welle
Updated Date: 16 July 2020, 16:26

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