Thursday, March 23, 2006


Another couple of interesting tidbits of information from b23 blog. Firstly, on the question of electoral fraud:
Since Alexander Lukashenka banned exit polls in Belarus, and since the official votes are massively falsified and no one even counted the ballots, there's no way to know how people of Belarus actually voted on March 19.

Well. Except for exit polls abroad, at the embassies. You can get a general picture of the scale of falsification by comparing official data from the Belarusan embassy in Czech Republic and the results of the exit poll:

OfficialExit poll
Hajdukevich - 2
Kazulin - 1
Lukashenka - 156
Milinkevich - 92
invalid ballot - 1
Hajdukevich - 1
Kazulin - 8
Lukashenka - 9
Milinkevich - 103
Against all - 6
Refused to answer - 30
The polling took place throughout the whole day from the opening of the embassy until closing. Even if we assume that during "early voting" there were additional 102 people (doubtful) and all of them voted for Lukashenka (very-very doubtful), still he could only get a theoretical maximum of 111 votes, not 156.

The official numbers have nothing in common with how people actually voted.
That was a bit slack of Lukashenko. You'd think if he were going to rig the ballot he might realise that fixing votes held in countries with more freedom than his own wouldn't be as simple as that.

The second story is somewhat grimmer:
People are still on the October square. The number of participants fluctuates from 6000-7000 (at around 6-7PM) down to about 500 people (at 5-6AM, the coldest time). Police is still blocking the square, searching through every bag, and not letting people with food and hot drinks to get through. People with blankets and tents get arrested.

A human rights organization “Spring-96″ published a list of about 300 people that were arrested for political reasons during this campaign, of them about 150 people were arrested near or around October square in the last four days.

Most of them are charged with 15-day administrative arrests.

Cars that honk when passing the October square get pulled over by road police and drivers are fined.

Today the main “lavatory” of the October square was closed down. The “lavatory” was just a tent which covered a sewege hole, with a trap-door removed. Today police sent city workers who blocked and welded the trap-door.

Now they got several buckets instead. City authorities refused to provide normal toilets.

Things don't look too promising for the protesters. Not only are they now hemmed in with little access to food, water or proper sanitation but calls for a re-run of the election have been quashed. From Yahoo! News:
The opposition in Belarus challenged President Alexander Lukashenko's re-election, saying authorities had "raped the minds" of voters, but officials dismissed their complaints on Thursday and endorsed the results.

Western countries, long critical of Lukashenko's Soviet-style rule, have joined the opposition in dismissing as fraudulent the poll which gave the president 82.6 percent of the vote in last Sunday's poll.

His closest rival, Alexander Milinkevich, got 6.1 percent.

The European Union said on Thursday it was considering imposing visa sanctions on the entire Belarus leadership, extending a ban which at present covers six officials, though it was not clear whether this would include Lukashenko himself.

Although security forces routinely disperse protests, up to 10,000 protesters have been allowed to stay in a Minsk square since the vote. A big opposition rally is scheduled for Saturday.

Another opposition candidate, Alexander Kozulin, who placed third with 2.2 percent of the vote, was allowed by the Central Election Commission to contest the returns.

"The presidential election was unconstitutional, unfair and does not conform to Belarussian laws," he told the commission.

"There was mass fraud and irregularities. Society has been infected by a malignant cancer of fear. The authorities have raped the minds of our people."

Commission members rejected his call for a re-run vote in September and Kozulin stormed out of the meeting.

"None of the arguments presented were of a serious nature and do not stand up to criticism," Commission head Lidiya Yermoshina said.

Commission secretary Nikolai Lazovik said Lukashenko's victory was underscored by a record turnout of 92.9 percent.

"Our citizens' reasonable response to outside pressure and calls to go into the street was to turn up at polling stations," he said.
And by the looks of those exit polls, have their votes ignored.

More photos of the protests here.

Despite promises of a bigger rally on Saturday, I fear the powers in be in Belarus will continue to keep the protesters under a state of siege and the demonstration will gradually be snubbed out. I hope I'm wrong.


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