Local elections: only Minsk shows initiative, regions are virtually excluded
The local election campaign in Belarus is coming to a halt – early voting starts in 10 days. Still, the overwhelming majority of candidates have not yet started a fully-fledged election campaign – out of 22,000 candidates for deputies, as few as 490 candidates for deputies opened the score.
At that, political activity is concentrated exclusively in Minsk, participation of the regions in the electoral process is extremely low: out of 8,395 announced mass events 7,452 are held in Minsk while as few as 11% are carried out in the remaining six regions combined. So far the authorities have managed to successfully implement their electoral scenario which prevents society from being ’politicised’ at the stage of election canvassing. Mobilisation of local authorities, pro-governmental NGOs and state-run mass media is foreseen at the stage of voting to ensure the required voter turnout.
During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.