In Belarus, nobody expects to see President Alexander Lukashenko, used to triumphing in the first round with more than 80% of the vote, to be defeated when the results are announced on the evening of the presidential election on August 9. After 26 years of authoritarian rule, the electoral system remains firmly locked, between an electoral commission acquired in power and polling stations controlled by loyal officials.
→ ANALYSIS. In Belarus, an extraordinary presidential election
In the absence of uninvited European observers and that of independent representatives, the opposition, whose hopes this year rest on the candidacy of Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa, has little recourse. “The polling stations are guarded as strategic military installations”, testifies an activist who tried to follow the progress of the early poll in a place of the capital.
Strange participation figures
On the first day, he was admitted into the hallway and was able to count how many people entered to deposit their ballots in the ballot box. On the second day, he did all of his calculations from outside the building. “But even with such an observation, I can say that the participation numbers are overestimated by at least one and a half times. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to photograph the minutes. “
The opposition is already contesting the high turnout announced by the authorities after three days of voting. “In 38% of the polling stations in Minsk, official data has repeatedly exceeded the actual turnout rate”, say observers of the organization Honest peoples. At school No. 130 in Minsk, the capital, they note that 33 people came according to their accounts, instead of the 176 voters officially recorded on the report. In another, they talk about 35 real voters for 182 “Ghosts”.
The vitality of the mobilization
Faced with the blocking of the authorities, the opposition activists are calling on the Internet platform “Golos” for a kind of alternative vote count. They invite voters to register using their phone number, take a picture of the ballot and post it online. In response, the head of the Central Election Commission, Lidia Yermoshina, spoke of a “Political scam” and one “Criminal project”.
These initiatives bear witness to the vitality of the mobilization around Svetlana Tikhanovskaya despite the growing pressure from the regime. Faced with the enthusiasm around the candidate’s meetings, the authorities have multiplied the pretexts to cancel the meetings with the public: a concert suddenly organized here in honor of the railway workers, work decided overnight there.
→ PORTRAIT. In Belarus, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya embodies a desire for political renewal
Arbitrary arrests that began in June are on the rise as the last day of voting approaches. Oleg Putilovsky, a volunteer carrying the official campaign leaflets of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was detained in Grodno. In the capital, two young DJs were sentenced to ten days in prison for playing one of the opposition’s tunes during a concert organized… by the government.