Not only the Belarusian authorities are involved in election fraud; their opponents turn out to have skeletons in the closet as well. Yaraslau Bernikovich, a coordinator of 2015 presidential candidate Tatsiana Karatkevich, claims that Tell The Truth civil campaign failed to collect even 50% of the signatures required for the registration of its candidate and avouches his words with appropriate data. If his statement is anything to go by, Mrs Karatkevich must have been helped and supported by the regime in order to be registered a 2015 presedintial candidate.
The ex-presidential candidate has called the statement of her former associate as a ‘dirty shadow play’. Interestingly, when interviewed by Belsat TV, Karatkevich has not directly denied allegations of fraud:
“I think that such statements made a year or a little less [after the election] show how one can bring even more discord into our democratic forces that are weak enough already.”
At the same time, Mr Bernikovich cannot but admit that such a scandalous confession after almost a year of silence was triggered by his conflict with Andrey Dzmitryeu, the head of the campaign. However, the former activist of Tell The Truth! says that the main reason for his deed was the lack of cooperation within the Belarusian opposition before the parliamentary elections.
As far back as 2010, in the course of the presidential campaign, many people questioned the opposition candidates’ ability to collect 100 000 signatures in isolation from one another. Nevertheless, as much as ten nominees were registered presidential candidates. However, in 2015, Anatol Lyabedzka, the leader of the United Civic Party, and Syarhei Kalyakin, the head of the party ‘Fair World’, quit the race, admitting their inability to honestly go through the registration process.
“Even when Tatsiana Karatkevich was giving the signatures in during the election campaign, there were unambiguous reports that she had not collected the required amount. I recall that the chairman of the party ‘Fair World’ said that if Tatsiana announced having 100,000 signatures, it would mean that they made a deal with the regime. Tatsiana did announce,” journalist Svyatlana Kalinkina says.
Then Karatkevich’s campain office refused to hand over the collected signatures for independent verification. Moreover, election observers reported facing problems when they wished to check them. This year, Tell the Truth! is set to to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Will Bernikovich’s statement have any influence on their transparency?
“In the future there will be fewer swindlers in the opposition who are ready to use the same methods as the government applies, e.g. to deceive, rig, dodge, refuse to answer direct questions. I hope there will be fewer such figures in the opposition if the campaign is pushed through,” Kalinkina sums up.
It always pays to tell the truth – better late than never.
Valer Ruselik, Belsat TV