Belarusian opposition held a meeting on Kastrychnitskaya Square in Minsk at 18:00 on Wednesday, November 24 to protest against the participation of incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko in the current presidential elections. Despite the fact that the action was not sanctioned by the city authorities, law enforcement officers did not interfere with its implementation.
Other opposition activists, such as Vladimir Niakliaeu, Vital Rymasheuski and Nikolai Statkevich also attended the meeting on Kastrychnitskaya Square. Participants of the action with white-red-white flags and streamers with the inscription «Alex, go away!» chanted «Long Live Belarus!» and «We believe. We can. We win.»
Vital Rymasheuski welcomed «all the brave people, who came to the meeting,» in the beginning of the action and thanked them for their support, «Belarusian News» pass.
Protesters Appealed to the CEC
In turn, the presidential candidate Nikolai Statkevich read the meeting resolution, issued in the form of appeal to the Chairman of the Central Election Commission of Belarus Lidia Yermoshina. The meeting participants demanded in this address to include representative from each presidential candidate in each precinct election commission and give them the right to sign the final protocol of the commission. In addition, the protesters urged the CEC to cancel early voting and allow it only for those, being outside Belarus on election day of December 19, as well as to count the ballots in public, showing each one to the observer.
Having promulgated the resolution, protesters decided to bring it together directly to the CEC. However, they failed to hand it over to Lidia Yermoshina on that very day, because the CEC didn’t work. Vital Rymasheuski said at the Government House, which is the CEC building, that the current action should not result in «PR of certain candidates for the presidency.» «We should see an organized force, able to defend its vote on December 19,» the candidate said.
After that, Vital Rymasheuski came up to the bars, protecting the territory around the CEC, and left the resolution, adopted by the participants of Kastrychnitskaya Square Meeting. The candidate expressed the hope for Lidia Yermoshina to be able to read it the next day at work.
Protesters Violated Administrative and Electoral Laws, Internal Affairs
Head of Press Service of Minsk Internal Affairs Department Alexander Lastovski reported that the protesters had violated both the administrative and electoral legislation. However, he failed to specify whether any administrative measures would be applied to the candidates, participated in the action.
According to him, the police tried to watch the observance of other citizens’ rights in the course of action. Internal Affairs are currently collecting information about the last meeting with an intention to pass it on to the Central Election Commission on Thursday, November 25, BelaPAN.
Opposition activists submitted no application for holding this meeting, a so-called rehearsal of a peaceful meeting on December 19, to Minsk City Executive Committee, as they are convinced it to be part of the campaign. However, Kastrychnitskaya Square is not included in the list of places, allowed for campaigning, and the government warned the opposition in advance of the illegitimacy of the upcoming event.
Prosecutor General’s Office Issued a Warning to Rymasheuski and Statkevich
Prosecutor General of Belarus issued warnings on Wednesday, November 24 to two presidential candidates Vital Rymasheuski and Nikolai Statkevich for their using the media to call on voters to take part in Kastrychnitskaya Square meeting.
Earlier, Interior Minister Anatoli Kuleshov said that «the the law enforcement officers will act within the established powers limits.» «Undoubtedly, we will behave with respect, in a correct way, without responding to the provocations of the participants of Kastrychnitskaya Square meeting,» Minister of Interior Affairs emphasized.
However, according to Telegraf, presidential candidate of the unregistered party of the «Belarusian Christian Democracy» Vital Rymasheuski said that the CEC threat to withdraw the candidates from registration for their participation in Kastrychnitskaya Square meeting on November 24, would remain inconclusive. In turn, he threatened the Central Election Commission head Lidia Yermoshina to bring to justice.
«I urge Yermoshina to take control of herself and stop insulting other candidates, apart from her current supervisor, as well as to stop breaking the law. I warn her of criminal liability for violations of election law and falsifications,» the candidate said in an interview with Telegraf on November 24.
Telegraf photos of Kastrychnitskaya Square meeting can be viewed here.