In the course of the recent elections to the councils of local deputies there has been a total package of violations, independent observers state. In addition to compulsory early voting, sending invitations to dead people, stuffing ballots and non-transparent counting, the authorities resorted to the so-called merry-go-round voting.
“Four persons, who used to work in school Nr 30 which I attended, cast their ballots at the polling station Nr 86. Then they went to polling station Nr 37 and did the same. Their voting was filmed,” Viktoryia Polyak, an election from Babruysk, said.
Moreover, Babruysk bloggers and activists spotted a Zhiguli car with the inscription Social Service near School Nr 22 (most polling stations are located in schools in Belarus). They followed the car; and its driver admitted that he had ordered to carry voters from school to school. They got out in two, vote, got into the car and once again – like a merry-go-round. There were other vehicles bussing people from station to station. Babruysk authorities told Belsat that it was nothing but providing assistance to seniors.
“You are talking nonsense, there was no violation of the electoral legislation at our polling station. And if you have some facts, report to law enforcement authorities,” Valyantsina Likhachova, a representative of Babruysk authorities, says.
And from bad to worse: Minsk activist Dzyanis Krauchuk discovered that if a person had a certain code (000-179) written in their passport, they could feel free to vote at several polling stations, and election commission pegged them as insiders. Dzyanis made an experiment, put the secret code down and voted at three stations, but at the third polling station he could not help asking why such an outrage was possible. The members of the commission realized that the plot had been disclosed.
“They said it was a mistake,” Krauchuk, an activist of the civil campaign Dzeya (Action) told Belsat.
Falsifications of the number of citizens who really voted seem to have been held en masse.
“In Rahachou, the chairman cynically addressed a member of the election commission who caught her colleagues in rigging: ‘You are not an observer, you are a member of the commission, and we were ordered to drive up voters’ turnout!” Viktar Karneyenka, a coordinator of the campaign ‘For Fair Elections’ says.
Mahiliou observer Yury Darashenka is still shocked. The election commission, which included the employees of Trolleybus Depot Nr 1, not only failed to his comments into consideration. On the contrary, they canceled his accreditation and pushed him out by force.
“Each of them is a member of the organized election fraud group headed by Svyatlana Sinyavskaya, Chairperson of the commission. She is Deputy Director General at the depot,” Darashenka, a former observer at polling station Nr 152 in Mahiliou, believes.
Why were the authorities acting in such a way? What was the purpose if there was no minimum voter turnout requirement? According to independent observers, voter fraud during the 2018 local election might have been the preparation for the 2019 presidential run.
18,110 deputies were elected to the local councils of Belarus on February, 18. Early voting kicked off in Belarus on February, 13. There might have been many rigged votes and violations from Tuesday till Saturday, observers warn.