Opposition’s electoral activity fits acceptable frameworks set by authorities
On February 20th, the registration of local candidates concluded in Belarus. The competition within a constituency is 1.2 candidates per seat, which is similar to the 2010 local elections.
The authorities managed to keep the opposition’s activity within the set frameworks. By registering fewer opposition candidates, the authorities attempt to avoid politicising problems induced by reduced social benefits. During the campaigning stage, targeted repressions against the most active opposition candidates may be used. However, local authorities will not introduce excess restrictions on campaigning for most party leaders, because they rely on full control over the election commissions.
Following crackdown and arrests of participants in the spring protests, the authorities resumed arrests as punishment for participating in street protests in addition to fines, which for some time were the only punishment for political activity. On September 22nd, 2017, the riot police detained the Belarusian National Congress leader Nikolai Statkevich, the opposition politician was placed in detention centre on Akrestin street. On the same day, after serving seven days of arrest, another BNC leader, Vladimir Neklyaev, was released. He was sentenced for organising a street protest on September 8th against the West-2017 exercises. Other participants in the protest have been fined too. The authorities are likely to continue to use fines and arrests against political activists to punish for their protest activity.