CEC completed initial parliamentary selection
The Central Election Commission tried to limit the competition already at the first stage of the election process. Competitiveness has been reduced at the cost of high percentage of registration denials to the opposition candidates. This means that at a later stage the authorities can be a little softer and the observers will be able to note some progress.
The CEC registered 362 candidates out of 494 nominated for the House of Representatives elections to be held on September 23rd.
The highest number in registration denials was among those who were nominated through the signatures collection, and thus already started campaigning in their regions. In particular, there was a significant screening among nominees from “Tell the Truth!” and “For Freedom” movements, which could be associated with their intention to go to the end of the election campaign. From the authorities’ point of view, this could create some problems, both during the campaign and during the votes counting.
On the contrary, most of the parliamentary elections’ boycott supporters (in one way or another) were successfully registered as candidates. Thus, 35 candidates of 48 runners up have been registered in the United Civil Party and 30 of 33 in the Belarusian Popular Front.
The registration stage finished with the formation of at least 3 uncontested constituencies, where the only candidates were powerful officials. In particular, Vileika, Baranavichy and Zaslavsky districts reported only one candidate registered: Rusakov (KGB Chief Directorate for economic security Head , Yazubets (Baranovichi Executive Committee Chairman) and Myakinnik (Petrishki Rural Executive Committee Chairman) respectively.
Parliament’s recognition by the international observers has never been and is not the goal of the authorities: legitimate Parliament would threaten the existing political system stability and President’s unilateral domination. Parliament should be fully controlled, and Deputy’s chair should be a promotion for loyalty.
Therefore, the election campaign should ensure the following: a) parliaments’ full accountability, b) awarding the ‘loyal’, c) citizens’ mobilization to vote, however without their active involvement in the election process, i.e. to ritualize the election process, d) recognition of the ‘progress’ achieved in the elections’ organization by international observers. Authorities’ actions, such as cutting off the most active candidates, keeping uncontested constituencies for ‘official representatives’, controlled competition, were meant to meet these challenges.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.