The law on elections to local councils, passed on December 16 by the House of Representatives of Belarus, stipulates that individuals who have committed any offense, including “administrative offenses,” may not seek elective office. According to the UCP, that provision is known to figure also in the draft law on parliamentary elections at President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s initiative and is clearly meant to “disqualify the most active members of the opposition,” the UCP warns (Belapan, December 16). “If this provision goes unnoticed by the international democratic community, there is no doubt that it will be duplicated in the law on parliamentary elections,” says a December 16 appeal by the United Civic Party (UCP) of Belarus (the opposition).
Very nearly all opposition leaders and hundreds of its activists have convictions–in many cases even multiple convictions–for “administrative offenses” on their records. Such convictions typically stem from participation in peaceful rallies and result in penalties ranging from fines to prison terms of up to two weeks. Barring these individuals from parliamentary elections would decapitate the democratic opposition parties. The provision would also exclude from politics the forty-five-strong core of the forcibly dissolved parliament, which continues to meet and enjoys international recognition. Most members of that core have suffered “administrative convictions.” The UCP includes the shadow cabinet’s chairman Henadz Karpenka, former Central Electoral Commission chairman Viktar Hanchar, former National Bank president Stanislau Bahdankevich, and other prominent opposition leaders.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WHIPPED BY HIS LOYALISTS.