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Belarus Votes:
2015 Election Blog

The 15-member editorial team of “Belarus Votes” consists of students,young journalists and election observers from Belarus, Germany and Poland. We travel to Belarus to deliver a wide range of reports and authentic stories about the presidential election held on 11 October 2015 from on the ground.

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News

ELECTION DAY +2 #electby (October 13th, 2015, Tuesday)
Stay tuned with Belarus Votes! We will continue publishing until the end of October

The elections in Belarus are officially over – but not all stories are told yet! Until the end of October we will continue to publish our articles with the material we collected during our stay in Belarus. How was election day in Belarusian villages? What do observers think about the election? And what is nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich’s opinion about the current situation? Those are only some of the questions that we are about to answer soon.

ELECTION DAY +2 #electby (October 13th, 2015, Tuesday)
Football fans wearing Pahonya scarves are being charged with „insubordination to police“, one already fined

The five football fans that were detained yesterday spent the night in a police department in Barysau and were charged today with „insubordination to police.“ One of them was fined ten daily fines, which is reported to amount to 100$. The remaining verdicts are still pending.

The fans, who belong to the unofficial fan association B-12, attended yesterday’s football match of the Belarusian national team against Macedonia wearing scarfs with the national red-white coat-of-arms „Pahonya“. The ancient symbol is closely associated with the political opposition within the country. For example, „Pahonya“ flags were also present at the oppositional rally in Minsk on 11 October. Police says the five were detained not for using the “Pahonya”, but for “swearing” and “insubordianation to police”. After the detainment, about 100 fans left the stadion in protest. Because of frequent detainments, some Belarusian fans boycott matches in the country generally.

Sources: 1 | 2 | 3

ELECTION DAY +1 #electby (October 12th, 2015, Monday)
EU to suspend sanctions against Belarus for four months

According to numerous news agencies, the EU’s Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs decided to suspend the sanctions against Belarusian citizens and companies for four months.

French Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir is quoted as follows: “For the next four months, there is the decision to suspend the sanctions.” Désir stressed that the sanctions can be “put in place again immediately if it proves justified.” Croation Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić said the EU wants to improve relations with Belarus for it considers it a partner “to stabilise the region.”

The present sanctions are directed against around 140 persons and 25 companies and include an arms embargo. While the latter will stay intact and sanctions against companies will only be partially suspended, only four Belarusian citizens, all members of security bodies, will be further targeted by the sanctions. They were supposedly involved in enforced disappearances of regime opponents.

Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

ELECTION DAY +1 #electby (October 12th, 2015, Monday)
Preliminary findings of the International Election Observation Mission published

The International Election Observation Mission published today preliminary findings about the election in Belarus.

In the report, the Mission highlights problems in different areas. Among other things, observers could not follow the entire election process, especially vote counting and tabulation were not transparent. In half of the cases, observers were denied to see the voter’s lists, and signs of ballot box stuffing were reported.

In total 928 international and 43,573 citizen observers were accredited to monitor the election. Roughly two-third of the citizen observers came from state-subsidised groups.

Despite the severe criticism expressed in the report, the Mission noted the welcoming attitude towards foreign observers, specific improvements and the peaceful character of the campaigning period and election day.

The International Election Observation Mission is a joint endeavor of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Source: http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/belarus/191586?download=true

ELECTION DAY +1 #electby (October 12th, 2015, Monday)
Election results in Minsk are significantly different from the rest of Belarus

Preliminary voting results of the presidential election in Minsk have shown that the support for A. Lukashenko in the capital is 20 percent less than in the country.

The least people visited early voting in Minsk — 29.49 percent in contrast to the regions with 36 to 39 percent. In the capital 65.58 percent of the votes were given for Alexander Lukashenko, which is almost 20 percent less than the national average.

Over 20 percent of Minsk’s residents voted against all candidates, in contrast to 6.4 percent in the overall results.

Source: http://spring96.org/ru/news/80713

ELECTION DAY +1 #electby (October 12th, 2015, Monday)
Arrested anarchists await trial tomorrow

The human rights center "Viasna" reports that two of five activists of the anarchist movement detained in the evening of 11 October had spent the night at the Center for Isolation of Delinquents.

They were given charges under the Article 17.1 of the Code of Administrative Offences – petty hooliganism. Their cases will be considered on 12 October.

In addition, a report was compiled against 17-year-old schoolboy Egor Skarbnevskiy.

Source: http://spring96.org/ru/news/80713

ELECTION DAY #electby (October 11th, 2015, Sunday)
Opposition leaders: International community should not recognise elections

Statkevich, Nyaklayeu and Lebedko, leading oppositional figures, urge the international community to not recognise the election in Belarus. The event has been only a staged political campaign called "elections", they claim on a press conference in the evening of 11 October. Nyaklayeu refers to the violations in the electoral process independent observers have collected and harshly criticises the large efforts of the authorities to get citizens to vote early. "It is a mockery of the citizens of Belarus", says Nyaklayeu.

Source: http://belapan.by/archive/2015/10/11/807162/

ELECTION DAY #electby (October 11th, 2015, Sunday)
Exit poll results: More than 80% vote for Lukashenko

Alexander Lukashenko has received between 80 and 84 percent of the vote, election polls show. Tatiana Karatkevich and Sergei Gaidukevich score around 5 percent while Ulakhovich reached between 1.4 and 2.2 percent. According to the polls, between 4 and 7 percent voted against all candidates.

The results come from three different institutions that have the official permit to execute exit polls on the election day: the Sociology Institute of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute for Comparative Social Studies Eurasian Barometer and the Youth Laboratory of Social Studies of the Belarusian Committee of Youth Organizations.

Source: http://eng.belta.by/politics/view/exit-polls-lukashenko-receives-80-of-the-vote-86119-2015/

ELECTION DAY #electby (October 11th, 2015, Sunday)
Lukashenko: “A person wearing a skirt is not able to do everything a president has to do”

When casting his vote at polling station no. 1 in Minsk today, Alexander Lukashenko questioned women’s eligibility for a position of head of state. “In our country the president has to deal with a lot of things – from security to economy, which someone wearing a skirt is probably not able to do yet. And if so, our society is not ready for that yet. But I’m glad that there is a female candidate, that’s something good”, said the incumbent president according to tut.by.

He also hinted at that in view of what happened in Ukraine his cracking down on the opposition in 2010 was the right thing to do, since “there had been a Maidan prepared for Belarus” then.

Source: http://news.tut.by/politics/468083.html

ELECTION DAY #electby (October 11th, 2015, Sunday)
Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections published their final report on early voting

According to the election observation project run by Viasna and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, there have been registered “numerous causes of coercion of citizens to participate in early voting by the administration of enterprises and universities.” 48.55 percent of observers reported discrepancies between the turnout stated in the respective Polling Station Election Commission’s protocols and their own data.

While the overall discrepancy between the protocol numbers and the observers’ data at 144 election precincts amounts to 6.2 percent, at some precincts the discrepancy exceeds 50 percent. The report also notes that several observers were “unreasonably deprived of accreditation at polling stations” and concludes that the practice of early voting “remains one of the systemic problems of the electoral process”.

Source: http://elections2015.spring96.org/en/news/80597

ELECTION DAY #electby (October 11th, 2015, Sunday)
Observer attacked by “carousel voters” caught in the act

On 10 October, United Civil Party observer Nikolaj Kozlov was physically assailed by people he claims to be “carousel voters” – i.e. people who are paid to cast their votes in several precincts upon the respective electoral commissions’ tacit approval. The incident took place next to polling station no. 24 in Minsk. Before, Kozlov had noticed that an elderly voter was wearing “a hat that was too large for him and was moving timidly” when entering the polling station. The man was registered and voted.

As neither the election commission nor the policeman on duty at the station reacted to Kozlov’s request to check the voter’s documents again, he followed him to the street. There Kozlov saw the man joining a group of persons who were handed out cash by one woman. “I started shooting them on video with my laptop, after which two of them burst on me, hit me by my legs and tried to seize my laptop. Then I returned to the polling station and called the police”, Kozlov later told RFE/RL. He also reported that there have been “carousel voters” at his polling station before.

Source: http://spring96.org/en/news/80626

1 DAY TILL #electby (October 10th, 2015, Saturday)
Procession of National Flag in Minsk

Around 800 people took part in a protest march from Svabody Square to Yakub Kolas Square in Minsk. Several oppositional politicians and public figures have called on people to take part in the rally. Former presidential candidates in 2010 Mikola Statkevich and Uladzimir Niakliayeu as well as the chairman of the United Civil Party Anatol Liabedzka gave speeches.

Source: http://spring96.org/en/news/80573

See also our own coverage

on the topic.
1 DAY TILL #electby (October 10th, 2015, Saturday)
College-Students from Gomel report about forced voting

Students of the Gomel Road-building College reported that they were taken to vote on the very first day of early voting and warned that in case of not casting a vote they risked being evicted from the dormitory.

Source: http://spring96.org/en/news/80548

1 DAY TILL #electby (October 10th, 2015, Saturday)
Activist discovers ‘Extra Ballots’ at Polling Station in Vitebsk

The election commission at polling station number 61 in Vitebsk changed the number of ballots received for voting by adding 100 items in its official record.

Source: http://www.svaboda.org/content/article/27297599.html

1 DAY TILL #electby (October 10th, 2015, Saturday)
Independent observers: ballot boxes for early voting not secure against falsifications

Observers report witnessing unsealed ballot boxes during lunch breaks and night time. Often they are guarded by policemen, who are state-dependent. Also, many cases of more or less openly forced early voting are reported.

Source: http://news.tut.by/politics/468014.html

2 DAYS TILL #electby (October 9th, 2015, Friday)
9 Million Belarusian Rubel fine for Lebedko

The oppositional politician Anatoly Lebedko was punished for taking part in the protests against a planned Russian air base in Belarus. He has to pay a fine about 9 Million Belarusian Rubles, around 460 Euro. The demonstration took place on Sunday, 4th October, in the center of Minsk. Around 500 people attended it.

Source: http://vybary.belsat.eu/news/u-mensku-sudzyats-za-pratest-suprats-rasejskaj-aviyabazy-lyabedzku-pakarali-na-9-mln-rublyou/

2 DAYS TILL #electby (October 9th, 2015, Friday)
Svetlana Alexievich's books now in Belarusian schools

The new national curriculum for the 11th grade will include books of Svetlana Alexievich. That reported the news agency Belapan with reference to the press service of the Ministry of Education. Students will read the two books "Voices from Chernobyl" and "Zinc-Covered Boys" from Alexievich, the latest Nobel Prize-winner in Literature and first one from Belarus.

Source: http://www.svaboda.org/content/article/27297504.html

3 DAYS TILL #electby (October 8th, 2015, Thursday)
Opposition plans protest march in Minsk

For Saturday, 10 October, Belarusian opposition plans a protest march through Minsk. Many popular opposition figures, like Anatol Lyabedzka, Uladzimir Nyaklyayeu and Mikola Statkevich are supporting the event.

Source: http://www.charter97.org/en/news/2015/10/7/172280/

3 DAYS TILL #electby (October 8th, 2015, Thursday)
Observers against observers

Already on the second day of early voting for the presidential elections in Belarus, two independent observers were deprived of their accreditations. Since most observers represent pro-governmental organisations, many independent observers monitor not only the elections but their colleagues, too.

Source: http://spring96.org/en/news/80427

3 DAYS TILL #electby (October 8th, 2015, Thursday)
Violation of electoral legislation in Hrodna

On 7 October, observers of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" discovered that the early voting protocol of one polling station in Hrodna / Grodno had been changed. Instead of 2500 ballots received on Tuesday, the number changed to 2400. Furthermore, some other numbers were replaced.

Source: http://spring96.org/en/news/80478

3 DAYS TILL #electby (October 8th, 2015, Thursday)
Organisers of the rally against Russian air base are called to court

Viasna reports that organisers and participants of the demonstration against the Russian air base in Belarus were summoned to court on 8 October. The court wants to open administrative cases against them. The rally "For Free, Peaceful and Neutral Belarus" was held on 4 October and was organised and attended by prominent opposition figures. One of them was Mikola Statkevich, whe also received an "invitation" to the court.

Source: http://spring96.org/en/news/80464

7 DAYS TILL #electby (October 4th, 2015, Sunday)
Hundreds protest against Russian Air Base In Belarus

On 4 October, between 400 and 500 people demonstrated at Minsk’s Liberty Square against the establishment of a Russian air base in Belarus. It would be the third Russian military facility on Belarusian territory.

Former presidential candidate and long time political prisoners Mikola Statkevich spoke at the rally and criticised the existing plans to establish an air base because of the current geopolitical background.

The initiators of the meeting were representatives of the opposition. Last week Statkevich, Vladimir Neklyayev, head of the public campaign “Tell the Truth!”, Anatoly Lebedko, head of the United Civil Party of Belarus, Alaksiej Janukievich, leader of the Partyja BNF political party, and Yury Hubarevich, chairman of the movement “For Freedom” signed a joint statement against the Russian plan.

The opposition stresses that the placing would be contrary to the Belarusian constitution, threatens the country’s independence and pushes Belarus into a military confrontation with its European neighbours.

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/belarus-russia-air-base-protest/27287417.html
Source: http://belapan.by/archive/2015/10/04/805288/

7 DAYS TILL #electby (October 3rd, 2015, Saturday)
Political activists detained and released without charges

On 1 October in Minsk, police detained two activists of the movement “For Freedom”. One day later, an activist of the United Civil Party Siarhei Kasabutski was detained in Gomel while handing out invitations to an electoral meeting. Oppositionists from the second-largest city in Belarus intend to hold an meeting for voters on 7 October. In both cases, the arrested persons were released without charges.

Source: http://spring96.org/en/news/80267

7 DAYS TILL #electby (October 3rd, 2015, Saturday)
Three Candidates debated on Belarus 1. Lukashenko absent

On early Saturday evening, presidential candidates Tatsiana Karatkevich and Nikolai Ulakhovich debated for one hour on state-owned TV-channel Belarus 1. Candidate Sergei Gaidukevich sent his son Oleg Gaidukevich, who is first deputy chairman of his father’s Liberal Democratic Party.

The fourth candidate, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko, declined to participate in the TV-debate. However, he did not rule out that he will make a brief reference to the voters on the eve of elections.

Source: http://belapan.by/archive/2015/10/03/805171/

8 DAYS TILL #electby (October 2nd, 2015, Friday)
“Week of Solidarity with Belarus' in Poland has started

On the weekend before the presidential elections in Belarus, several Polish and Belarusian bands perform at an annual concert near the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. The venet will be accompanied by discussions, film screenings and exhibitions. The week's slogan is 'Freedom without borders'.

Source: http://vybary.belsat.eu/en/news/u-varshave-raspachausya-tydzen-salidarnastsi-z-belarussyu-u-pyatnitsu-vyaliki-kantsert/

8 DAYS TILL #electby (October 2nd, 2015, Friday)
Lukashenko: 'We cannot allow any provocations'

According to the Belarusian Telegraph Agency (BELTA), Alexander Lukashenko stated at a conference held on 1 October that for him the country's stability is the most important issue and there is no chance for a revolution in Belarus.

Source: http://eng.belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-calls-for-peaceful-democratic-presidential-election-in-belarus-85827-2015/

9 DAYS TILL #electby (October 1st, 2015, Thursday)
Lukashenko to win with 45.7%, Karatkevich ranks second with 17.9%

Lukashenko is likely to win the first round of elections with more than 45% of the vote, reports research institute IISEPS. The numbers come from a public opinion poll held in September. Compared to the June poll, Lukashenko’s rating has visibly improved from 38.6% to 45.7%. The other candidates are at 17.9% (Karatkevich), 11.4% (Gaidukevich) and 3.6 % (Ulakhovich).

Considering the voter turnout, Lukashenko will get even higher results, states Poland-based Belarusian television channel BelsatTV.

Source: http://vybary.belsat.eu/en/news/pragnozy-lukashenka-peramozha-u-pershym-tury-vybarau/

9 DAYS TILL #electby (October 1st, 2015, Thursday)
228 foreign reporters with accreditation for the elections period

Thus far the Belarusian Ministery of Foreign Affairs has given out 228 temporary accreditations to reporters of foreign media outlets to cover the presidential elections, announced MFA spokesman Dmitry Mironchik today at a press conference.

Adding nearly 250 reporters with permanent accreditation, about 480 foreign reporters Belarus will report on the presidential race this autumn. Journalists can apply for accreditation to cover the event until 7 October, thus more applications are expected.

Source: http://eng.belta.by/society/view/mironchik-nearly-480-foreign-reporters-have-been-accredited-to-cover-president-election-in-belarus-85825-2015/

9 DAYS TILL #electby (October 1st, 2015, Wednesday)
Opposition leaders fined after an unregistered rally

Opposition leaders Statkevich, Neklyaev, Lebedko and Kaslov were fined by a court in Minsk for holding an unsanctioned rally in Minsk on 16 September. Statkevich received the highest fine of USD 500 while his colleagues were fined USD 300 or USD 400.

Source: http://en.eurobelarus.info/news/politics/2015/10/01/belarusian-opposition-leaders-fined-for-unsanctioned-rallies.html

11 DAYS TILL #electby (September 29th, 2015, Tuesday)
Opposition party BKhD to hold pickets against all candidates

The oppositional Christian Democrat Party (Belarusskaia Khristianskaya Demokratia, BKhD) wants to hold pickets against all candidates taking part in the upcoming presidential election.

According to the party’s press service, the goal is to remind Belarusians that taking part in the elections means directly supporting the current regime. The pickets are planned to take place from 5 to 10 October in Minsk and in 15 other major cities from 8 to 10 October. Authorities yet have to give their permission – the requests are pending since 17 and 18 September.

Source: http://naviny.by/rubrics/elections/2015/09/29/ic_news_623_464148/

11 DAYS TILL #electby (September 29th, 2015, Tuesday)
CEC news: 25 000 election observers and no way to give more broadcast time to opposition candidates

Lidia Yermoshina, head of Belarus’ Central Election Commission (CEC), announced that the proposal to transfer Lukashenko’s unused broadcast time on radio and TV to another candidate might not be possible.

In a press conference the CEC hold on Tuesday, Yermoshina said that no such request has been made. “When there will be a request, we will examine it”, she continued, adding that “the broadcast time is given by the state to a specific candidate, and not for giving it to someone else”.

On 25 September, Lukashenko, who has not yet used the standard amount of broadcast time alloted to every candidate, told the media that he was eager to give his spare time to another candidate, but supposedly none of them was interested.

Subsequently, presidential candidate Tatiana Korotkevich asked the CCE for Lukashenko’s time.

Yermoshina also told the media that one of the presidential candidates filed a complaint with the CEC against another candidate and that thus far authorities have registered more than 24 000 Belarusian and 830 foreign election observers.

Source: http://naviny.by/rubrics/elections/2015/09/29/ic_news_623_464144/

11 DAYS TILL #electby (September 29th, 2015, Tuesday)
Nikolai Ulakhovich’s answers netizens

In an online conference, Nikolai Ulakhovich, presidential candidate and leader of the Belarusian Patriotic Party and the “Belarusian Cossacks”, answered the questions asked by readers of the online news portal “naviny.by”. He stressed his loyalty to both Alexander Lukashenko and Belarus, that, according to his own words, must grow a new national culture.

He also proposed further integration with Russia, calling Belarusians, Ukrainians and Russians “branches of one tree”.

Russian source: http://naviny.by/rubrics/elections/2015/09/29/ic_articles_623_189876/

12 DAYS TILL #electby (September 28th, 2015, Monday)
Belarus ignores OSCE recommendations on elections

Jacques Faure, head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission in Belarus this year, states that Belarus did not address all OSCE election recommendations.

During the last election campaign, the ODIHR recommended:
- to implement a more open and inclusive registration, preventing authorities from favoring one candidate;
- to lessen adminsitartive restriction on candidates’ public meetings with voters
- to create a more balanced, not state-dominated election commissions; to publish the results from each polling station.
Thus far none of them seem to be followed.

Source: http://udf.by/news/politic/128370-glava-missii-bdipch-obse-ne-vse-nashi-rekomendacii-po-vyboram-v-belarusi-uchteny.html

12 DAYS TILL #electby (September 28th, 2015, Monday)
Observers from CIS states: "The election campaign is open and takes place without any problems"

Melsat Halimov, the representative of the CIS observation mission, stated in his address to journalists: "We visited a number of polling stations, including those in the Gomel region, and we can note that all the work on preparation and organisation of the election process is open and is carried in accordance with election regulations of Belarus. There are no complaints or comments from our side".

Source: http://www.belta.by/politics/view/vybory-2016-predvybornaja-kampanija-v-belarusi-protekaet-otkryto-i-bez-zamechanij-nabljudatel-missii-164361-2015/

17 DAYS TILL #electby (September 24th, 2015, Thursday)
“My rival Lukashenko is afraid of changes”

In her second broadcasted speech, presidential candidate Tatsiana Karatkevich remembered the 90s and said that modernization should be carried out in Belarus.

According to Karatkevich, the state machine of 1996 was dying, it did not work properly in 2015, and it is time high time Belarusians changed it. In her opinion, people in power should not put a brake for changes but be a force for development.

Source: http://vybary.belsat.eu/en/news/tatstsyana-karatkevich-narod-i-kraina-perarasli-svayu-uladu/

17 DAYS TILL #electby (September 24th, 2015, Thursday)
Candidates agitate. Voters unmoved. Photo-reportage.

Candidates of the forthcoming presidential election have already spent two weeks trying to persuade Belarusians to vote. Meanwhile, OSCE called the campaign to be “unnoticeable“.

Source: http://news.tut.by/politics/465747.html

19 DAYS TILL #electby (September 23rd, 2015, Wednedsay)
Belarusian Republican Youth Union teaches how to comment

Electby.org published the screenshots with letters to regional departments of Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) giving instructions what articles they had to comment on.

The letter contains links to news on Tut.by and “Nasha Niva”, deadlines for publication of specific comments and demands to take screenshots of the activity.

For example, it is required to write an approving comment to the text of Lukashenko’s election program, while an article about oppositionist Mikola Statkevich’s picket should be criticized, mentioning foreign grants.

Electby.org is an interactive map of election frauds, where everyone can send their information about observed misconducts. The report about the instructions of BRSM is now marked unverified on the website.

Source: http://2015.electby.org/reports/view/19

19 DAYS TILL #electby (September 23rd, 2015, Wednedsay)
"For the future of independent Belarus". A campaign or a coincidence?

State media and business use the symbol and the slogan of Lukashenko in their news feed and products. Lawyers point out the case of indirect agitation while Lidia Yermoshyna, head of the Central Election Commission of Belarus, calls the situation "ambiguous".

A tick in the shape of «V», painted in colors of the national flag, is visible at concerts, and also flashes on the posters, in a mobile application "Vybory-2015" and on the website "Belta". Today the posters with the slogan "For the future of independent Belarus" appeared in the Minsk metro. The same symbol and slogan was presented by the incumbent president, Alexander Lukashenko, during collection of signatures.

Source: http://news.tut.by/society/465692.html
Source: http://news.tut.by/politics/464988.html

20 DAYS TILL #electby (September 22nd, 2015, Tuesday)
Mikola Statkevich fined

Mikola Statkevich got the highest fine (7 millions of rubles) for organising an illegal picket. The picket called “For honest and free elections“ took place in Minsk, on 10 September, close to a huge well-known market place “ГУМ“.

Source: http://www.racyja.com/palityka/mikalaya-statkevicha-ashtrafavali-za-pi/

20 DAYS TILL #electby (September 22nd, 2015, Tuesday)
Belarusian human rights activists to use a mobile app to report election fraud

Information about election violations will be reported by a mobile app and appear on the online map electby.org.

Source: http://belsat.eu/en/articles/use-new-mobile-app-report-election-fraud/

20 DAYS TILL #electby (September 22nd, 2015, Tuesday)
Mikalai Ulahovich promises to lift “central planning”

“Recently we tried to raise our five-year strategy plan for economic growth of our country. In the beginning I had a feeling that the environment of current president offers him a strategy of planned socialistic economy, very well-known from the Soviet time and widely discussed by specialists. But they disregard that in Belarus there are two co-existing economic systems: first – half-controlled and planned by state, and the second – market economy. Therefore five-year economic plans that include private ownership and entrepreneurship, are not good for us“.

Source: http://belapan.by/archive/2015/09/22/802604/

21 DAYS TILL #electby (September 21st, 2015, Monday)
“We have nowhere to go”. Lukashenko gives OK to Russian air base in Belarus?

Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized his ministers to sign an agreement providing for the establishment of a new Russian airbase in Belarus.

Although talks with Minsk are yet to be carried out, experts have no doubt that the document will be signed.

Source: http://belsat.eu/en/articles/we-have-nowhere-go-lukashenka-okays-russian-air-base-belarus/

21 DAYS TILL #electby (September 21st, 2015, Monday)
Stanislau Shushkevich: Russian soldiers in Belarus have a free reign

The first leader of independent Belarus after the fall of the Soviet Union stated: “It is no news for me. In fact, the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organisation] gives a go-ahead to the soldiers: do whatever you want. Lukashenko withholds any statements on the issue – they seemingly "defend" Russian borders from NATO. Russia does whatever it wants here, controlling all Belarusian state posts. Once the Russian ambassador said ‘Russia gets what it needs here’".

Source: http://www.charter97.org/en/news/2015/9/21/169975/

21 DAYS TILL #electby (September 21st, 2015, Monday)
U.S. buys missiles for Syrian rebels from Putin’s ally Lukashenko

The U.S. violated its own policy and gave a ”little-known” private company called Purple Shovel Llc. an approval to acquire million of dollars’ worth of high-tech missiles from Belarus, a “dictatorship that is under sanctions by the European Union”. The missiles will be given to Syrian rebels.

Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/aramroston/the-secret-arms-deal-behind-americas-syria-fiasco#.sbWRzrV9w

22 DAYS TILL #electby (September 20th, 2015, Sunday)
Artists vote for stability. Or don’t vote at all

Radio Liberty asked the famous Belarusian artists about their voting preferences.

"I vote for stability. For a man who loves his country and who is a patriot" said director Sergei Zhdanovich (author of the film "We brothers"). Sculptor Loyko Gyenik, painter Ales Pushkin and singer Lyavon Volskiy announced that they intend to boycott the elections. "I will not go. Since 1994, I do not go to the polls. ... At each election, they arrested me and put me in jail. There is no one to vote for" said Pushkin.

Source: http://www.svaboda.org/content/article/27258799.html

22 DAYS TILL #electby (September 20th, 2015, Sunday)
Election commissions in Belarus has accredited more than 9.1 thousand observers

The Belarusian electoral commission issued more than 9 100 accreditations for domestic observers. Nearly 8 000 observers were designated by social organisations, 475 by political parties and 200 by workers' collectives. In addition, 520 accreditations were given to individuals.

The Central Election Commission announced that also 385 foreign observers were accredited, including representatives of the OSCE and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Source: http://www.belta.by/politics/view/v-belarusi-izbirkomy-razlichnyh-urovnej-akkreditovali-bolee-91-tys.-nabljudatelej-163321-2015/

22 DAYS TILL #electby (September 20th, 2015, Sunday)
Mikhalevich has been refused in closing the case of the 2010 riots - TUT.BY

Ales Mikhalevich, one of opposition candidates in the last presidential elections, was detained by Belarusian border guards when he tried to enter the country and released on condition to remain on the territory of Belarus.

He left Belarus after being imprisoned due to participation in the post-election demonstrations on 19 December 2010, and lived in exile in the Czech Republic where he had received political asylum.

Source: http://news.tut.by/politics/465256.html

23 DAYS TILL #electby (September 19th, 2015, Saturday)
Malady Front calls to demonstrate and boycott the elections

In a press release from 18 September, the Christian democratic Malady Front (Young Front) expressed their support for demonstration of opposition politician Mikola Statkevich. The protest rally was planned on 23 September at Minsk’s Freedom Square.

The youth movement called the elections a “circus” and the candidates “freaks” and “corrupt”, encouraging a boycott of the voting.

Source: http://mfront.net/bajkot-ilzhyvaj-uladzie-i-ihnor-pradazhnym-kandydatam.html

23 DAYS TILL #electby (September 19th, 2015, Saturday)
“A Just World” will not support any candidate

The Belarusian United Left Party “A Just World” will not support any of the four candidates in the election on 11 October.

The decision was made at the meeting of the central committee of the party on 19 September. Instead, the party wants to use the time before the election for rallies, pickets or media campaigns to advertise their own party platform and to show the errors of the current government.

“A Just World” will take part in the campaign “For Fair Elections 2015” and will monitor the electoral process.

Source: http://euroradio.fm/ru/partiya-spravedlivyy-mir-ne-podderzhit-na-vyborah-ni-odnogo-iz-kandidatov

23 DAYS TILL #electby (September 19th, 2015, Saturday)
Prosecutor investigate Lukashenko’s collecting signatures

The Belarusian Christian Democracy party published online two reports on questionable collections of supporters’ signatures. The documented incidents that took place in Vitebsk, involves parents signing a document that they would vote for Lukashenko in the upcoming election. Additionally, signatures for the incumbent president were collected before the official start of the campaign.

After the regional election commission ordered an investigation, a party activist was summoned by the prosecutor for questioning.

Source: https://spring96.org/en/news/79990

25 DAYS TILL #electby (September 17th, 2015, Friday)
European Union to suspend sanctions on Belarus

The European Union is likely to suspend a number of sanctions on Belarus, including visa restrictions against Alexander Lukashenko and some of economic barriers to Belarusian companies.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/17/us-belarus-sanctions-eu-exclusive-idUSKCN0RH1KY20150917
Source: http://news.tut.by/politics/464975.html

25 DAYS TILL #electby (September 17th, 2015, Friday)
The first performance of Tatsiana Karatkevich on TV: “Lukashenko is tired, he needs rest”

Tatsiana Karatkevich made her first appearance on television as a candidate. She encouraged voters to change the old team and vote for peaceful change.

"Think and look into your wallets. There is now less than five years ago. This is the result of stability that turned into a stagnation and stagnation that turned into a crisis…Lukashenko is tired, he needs rest. People will say thank you for all the good that has been done, but we need to go forward".

Source: http://news.tut.by/politics/464996.html

26 DAYS TILL #electby (September 16th, 2015, Thursday)
Programmes of Ulakhovich and Lukashenko published

Election programmes of two candidates for the Belarus presidency — Alexander Lukashenko and Nikolai Ulakhovich — were officially published in the latest edition of the newspaper Belarus Segodnya. The election program of another presidential candidate Tatsiana Karatkevich was published via online mass media on September 13th.

Source: http://eng.belta.by/all_news/politics/Two-candidates-for-Belarus-presidency-publish-election-programs_i_84493.html

26 DAYS TILL #electby (September 16th, 2015, Thursday)
Gaidukevich and Korotkevich will meet for TV debate on October 3rd

The Belarusian Television and Radio Company received applications for the participation in tv debates from two candidates: Sergei Gaidukevich and Tatsiana Karatkevich.

According to the Central Election Commission of Belarus, tv debates can take place if the intention to take part in them is voiced by at least two candidates. 60-minute long TV debates between the presidential candidates will be broadcast by the Belarus One TV channel on 3 October at 5pm local time.

Source: http://eng.belta.by/all_news/politics/Gaidukevich-Korotkevich-apply-for-participation-in-TV-debates_i_84483.html

26 DAYS TILL #electby (September 16th, 2015, Thursday)
First foreign election observers come to Belarus.

Communication with international missions that arrived in Belarus to observe the presidential election is objective enough, Chairperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Lidia Yermoshina said in an interview for the Belarus One TV channel.

According to the preliminary data, a total of 195 international observers have been accredited in Belarus. The majority of them represent the CIS as well as OSCE and PACE missions. Additionally over 4 000 national observers are working in the country.

The Central Election Commission plans to register 50 more international observers.

Source: http://eng.belta.by/all_news/politics/Yermoshina-positive-about-cooperation-with-observation-missions_i_84412.html

27 DAYS TILL #electby (September 15th, 2015, Wednesday)
Election boycott threats in the small village of Sporava

Residents of the village of Sporava (Beresovskyi region) threaten to ignore the presidential elections due to a conflict over a lake in their village.

Last year, businessman Anatolyi Zablotski built a house on a state protected archaeological site next to the lake which the villagers are now forbidden to visit. The people of Sporava wrote a protest letter to President Lukashenko to look into the case – they claim that the issuing of a building permit by local authorities was against the law. If the situation does not change, they threatened to ignore the presidential election in October.

Source: http://charter97.org/en/news/2015/9/15/168991/
Source: http://spring96.org/en/news/79928
Source: http://charter97.org/ru/news/2015/9/15/168991/

27 DAYS TILL #electby (September 15th, 2015, Wednesday)
Exiled Belarusian Opposition Activist Returns

Vyachaslau Siuchyk, an opposition political activist, returned on September 15 to Minsk after 5 years of self-imposed exile in Ukraine.

He left Belarus after the crackdown against the opposition following the presidential elections in 2010. In Ukraine, he was engaged in the pro-European Euromaidan protests. He hopes that the political landscape in Belarus might change due to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/belarus-activist-vyachaslau-siuchyk-home-minsk/27248986.html

27 DAYS TILL #electby (September 15th, 2015, Wednesday)
2010 presidential candidate threatened by state police

Through his Facebook page the oppositional politician Uladzimir Nyaklyayew informed about a phone call from police officers, ordering him to visit the police department and give an explanation of his presence at a demonstration. He took part in a protest for free and fair election on 10 September, which had not been sanctioned by the police.

Source: http://charter97.org/en/news/2015/9/15/169079/

27 DAYS TILL #electby (September 15th, 2015, Wednesday)
All presidential candidates open election campaign accounts

The special accounts are used for fundraising. Candidates can use their own funds, private citizens’ and legal entities’ donations for their presidential campaigns.

Lukashenko opened his special election campaign account only on 15 September, preceded by three presidential candidates Sergei Gaidukevitch, Tatsiana Karatkevich and Nikolai Ulakhovich after their successful registration as candidates.

Source: http://eng.belta.by/all_news/politics/Belarus-presidential-candidates-open-election-campaign-accounts_i_84446.html

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Stories

Regardless of the outcome...

Why coverage of Belarus in its pre-election period is falling short? How to keep citizens of Belarus’ neighbouring countries in the West informed about the voting that takes place this autumn? How much attention should we pay if there’s no change in the air? Are Belarusians interested in sharing their election stories?

Follow our team on the journey to report on Belarus in its voting time. We talk with experts, observers, politicians, journalists, activists and citizens of Belarus inside and outside of the country. Together we tell the story of the impact on democratisation, human rights, relations with neighbours and internal struggle to make life better. We aim at helping to understand the political context and Belarusian society as well as attitudes towards the country under President Alexander Lukashenko’s rule. We present a unique approach based on cooperation of an international team with diverse points of views.

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Our Team

The project is a joint Belarusian-German-Polish initiative created by Libereco - Partnership for Humans Rights (Germany), StudAlliance with support of EOTP project (Belarus) and Common Europe Foundation / Eastbook.eu (Poland). Our media partners are Network for Reporting on Eastern Europe (n-ost), Belarus in Focus and New Eastern Europe.

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The project is funded by the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, The German Marshall Fund of the United States and MitOst with support of Eastbook powered by the International Visegrad Fund.

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The background image is a derivative of "Belarus" by Marc Veraart, used under CC BY.