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
James Brooke

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.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs