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Viktor Kornienko: If Europe recognizes elections, the role of the opposition in Belarus will decline

22.08.2016  |  Politics   |  Sergey Kozhukov,  EuroBelarus
Viktor Kornienko: If Europe recognizes elections, the role of the opposition in Belarus will decline

After the parliamentary elections the opposition can step from decision-making process even further.

Chair of the Central Election Commission Lidzia Jarmoshyna, stated that if earlier she heard threats from the international observers, now the situation is totally different: they speak with respect, as equals, without dictating the terms. "It's a completely different atmosphere", - she said.

Also Yarmoshyna believes that "there are no representatives of PACE without criticism." "There are a number of observations, which contradict each other; particular experts don’t approve of particular things. But should a sovereign state salute and implement the recommendations of an individual expert, who might happen to be a young man or woman?" - she said.

"EuroBelarus" Information Service asked one of the coordinators of "For Fair Elections" campaign Viktor Kornienko to react to these statements.

- Jarmoshyna claimed that if earlier she used to hear threats from international observers now they speak respectfully. Do you notice that their tone in a conversation with the Belarusian authorities has changed?

- Yes, of course. Belarusian authorities want to please various international institutions, including the OSCE ODIHR.

In their turn, it’s not hard to deceive international institutions, as they are glad to be deceived. They are eagerly seeking progress in the democratization of Belarusian elections even where it does not look like democratization. This is happening due to the changed geopolitical situation because of the events in Ukraine.

The situation is favorable for the Belarusian regime, and it’s trying to take advantage of it. In many ways, it succeeds. This is evident from the tone of statements on the expectations of radical change in Belarus that are voiced by the representatives of the official delegations, for example, Andrea Rigoni, who has recently visited our country.

- Can the conclusions of international observers be softer towards the official Minsk?

- I'm assuming that the observers will do their work professionally and, as always, at the highest level.

As for the political assessments, certain progress can be marked in some part of organizing the elections. It’s present in some parts; for example, campaigning runs more freely.

But as for taking the opinion of the voters into consideration, in particular, the counting of votes, it remains under the full control of the power vertical alongside with the connivance of courts, prosecutors and law enforcement.

- But the promise to show the observers the counting of votes was made.

- All these promises to open one side of the table where the ballot papers are counted are worth little.

A little over than a year ago I was present at the elections in Sweden, and Sweden doesn’t have the institute of observers at all. But when the Commissions have nothing to hide, they don’t interfere with the activities of those who want to control their actions.

Whereas in our country Jarmoshyna claims that to make the procedure of counting of votes transparent, one should change the legislation. Nothing needs to be changed; you just need to oblige the Commission to count the votes openly and transparently.

The democratic part of the society has many times suggested a procedure that will ensure the transparency of the vote count: to demonstrate a ballot paper before placing it in a separate pile. In the meantime, this procedure remains classified.

The problem of the Belarusian elections is that there is no mechanism for the protection and enforcement of the law. The law can state whatever, but very soon you can disregard it. There are no independent government institutions in Belarus, so the authorities are doing whatever they want to.

It is unfortunate that the international community tolerates the regime rather than tries to pursue the implementation of the commitments taken by public institutions. I think no geopolitical interests can justify it.

- Is the international recognition of elections in Belarus as the ones that took place without serious violations still possible?

- I don’t think so. It’s most likely that the progress will be marked. And this will be enough to continue the dialogue. The international community will say that there has been some progress in the holding of elections, although there were shortcomings.

But this progress gives the government carte blanche and the international community shuts its eyes to what is happening in Belarus during the elections.

- If the election will be recognized, how it will affect the opposition, and concentration of forces inside the country?

- As a rule, international organizations don’t decide whether to recognize the elections or not; they rather assess, whether or not any violations took place. They don’t have a univocal opinion.

The opposition used to take upon itself the obligations that if their demands were met, they would recognize the results of elections, regardless of whether they have the seats in the government or not. But the authorities didn’t make this happen.

If Europe and international organizations recognize the elections, the role of the opposition in the political process in Belarus will decrease.

Unfortunately, the opposition itself, which failed to form a single monolithic team at these elections, plays a big role in it. Instead, some tactical projects worked – when some coalition beats the other, and the regime enjoys watching it. I think it is a huge mistake of the opposition.

Of course, dialog between the West and the government could expand, but in the meantime the opposition will be continuing to move away from the place where it makes political decisions.

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