News / Europe

Western Observers Call Belarus Election a 'Failure'

Protesters rally as they denounce the Belarus presidential election saying it was falsified in the capital, Minsk, 19 Dec 2010
Protesters rally as they denounce the Belarus presidential election saying it was falsified in the capital, Minsk, 19 Dec 2010

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Belarus's presidential candidate Grigory Kostusyev says he was held by secret police and pressured to renounce his colleagues before being released. He said candidate Dmitry Uss also had been released, after being among seven opposition candidates jailed following Sunday's election. European observers declared Belarus' election a failure.

European observers on Monday declared Belarus' presidential election a "failure." That assessment will likely to cause the European Union to withdraw its offer of nearly $4 billion in credits to President Lukashenko if he carried out a free and fair election.

European observers reported that vote counting was "bad" or "very bad" at almost half of polling stations they visited, according to Geert Ahrens, head of the election observer team of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE. "The election is a failure."

Watch Mariama Diallo's Companion TV Report

The main problem, the German diplomat said, was the secret counting of votes by Belarus government employees. Last year, the European Union had offered Belarus up to $4-billion in aid and credits last month, if the government here carried out elections deemed free and fair by the OSCE.

On Monday, Belarus Central Elections Commission Chairwoman Lidia Yermoshina disregarded domestic and foreign complaints about the secret vote count, and announced that Mr. Lukashenko had won 79.7 percent of the vote.

Yermoshina said that second place candidate Andrei Sannikov received only 2.6 percent of the vote. None of the eight other opposition candidates drew more than two percent of the vote, she said. About 6.4 million people, 91 percent of the electorate, reportedly turned out for the election. The government banned private companies from conducting exit polls.

The White House says Washington does not accept the results of the presidential election announced by the Belarussian Central Election Commission.

The number of votes Mr. Lukashenko received was slightly more than what he had predicted, but slightly less than the 83 percent of the vote he won in the 2006 elections. After that election, he said he actually had received more votes, but that he had reduced the number to make it look more democratic.

Already Europe's longest-serving president, Mr. Lukashenko's tenure in this former Soviet republic will run through 2015, which would make 21 years in office.

After learning that ballots would be be counted in secret, opposition leaders called a mass demonstration Sunday. Almost 1,000 people were jailed, including seven of the nine opposition presidential candidates.

At the press conference, Mr. Lukashenko criticized his opponents.

According to the opposition Committee for Free Elections, the presidential candidates are being held incommunicado in Minsk. On Monday, police raided the committee's offices, seizing its computers and detaining several of its members for two hours.

Germany, Poland, the European Union and the United States have condemned the arrests. The U.S. State Department called the actions "a clear step backwards on issues central to our relationship with Belarus."

Presidential candidate Vladimir Nikolyaev and several dozen supporters were attacked by men armed with stun grenades Sunday as they walked from their party's offices to the demonstration in Minsk. Mr. Nikolyaev was knocked out and taken to the hospital.

According to his wife Olga Nikolyaevna, government security agents entered the candidate's the hospital room and carried her husband away.

Nikolyaevna told an OSCE press conference, "I do not know where my husband is. Who took him by force, and where?"

Later Monday, President Lukashenko said her husband was in a secret police isolation cell.

Yaroslavl Romanchuk, one of the few opposition candidates who was not arrested, appeared on state television Monday, saying he opposed marching on the Central Election Commission.

Normally, a fluid speaker, Romanchuk appeared nervous and tired as he read a prepared statement.

State television has focused on the actions of about 50 protesters who attacked the government administration building Sunday.

State television largely has ignored Sunday's massive, overwhelmingly peaceful march through the center of Minsk by an estimated 40,000 people.

Belarus Interior Ministry Spokesman Anatoly Kuleshov told state television that 30 policemen were wounded Sunday. He did not mention the dozens of demonstrators and journalists who were clubbed by riot police.

The police spokesman said that participants in the attack on the state administration building could face up to 15 years in prison.


James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid