On the Presidential Elections Belarus 2006
By Dr. Hans-Georg Wieck, Chairman of “Menschenrechte in Weißrussland e.V.”, Berlin. With the officially announced election result of the presidential elections in Belarus on 19 March, Lukashenko has scored a Pyrrhic victory. The official result, which was heavily manipulated – 82.8 percent of the votes cast for Lukashenko, 6 percent for Milinkevich, 2.3 percent for Kosulin and 3.5 percent for Gaidukevich – bears no credibility:
- Based on exit polls (surveys of voters after they have cast their votes), Russian public opinion research institutes concluded that the actual political scenario is most accurately reflected by the following result: between 43 and 47 percent of the votes were cast in favour of Lukashenko, and 25.6 – 31 percent were cast for Milinkevich. A result of this order would necessitate a second round of voting.
- Based on a broad popular movement, and supported by public opinion, 30–40,000 demonstrators gathered on October Revolution Square in the centre of Minsk on the eve of the election. Ignoring the threats by Lukashenko to “cut their terrorist throats”, citizens demonstrated with flowers and the flags of free Belarus and the European Union against the manipulation of the election results by the state institutions, and demanded that the real results of the vote counting be announced. During the late evening, the demonstrators laid flowers on the eternal flame on Victory Square.
- Members of Parliament from Germany and Poland demonstrated their solidarity with the demonstrators and the fight of the people of Belarus for freedom and democracy.
The regime rigorously acted to thwart the efforts of local election monitors, and prevented them from gauging the actual election result. Lukashenko and his propaganda officials attempted to minimise the importance of the public demonstrations of his political opponents against the official election manipulation. However, within the circle closest to the fraudulently re-elected President, the negative after-effects of the heightened policy of unscrupulously intimidating the population, and the state terror against the opposition, will make themselves felt:
- The evident solidarity of the population in Belarus and in the member states of the European Union with the peaceful, committed efforts of the pioneers for freedom and national honour in their fight against suppression and arbitrariness.
- Lukashenko has scored a Pyrrhic victory. He has gambled away the trust placed in him by the citizens of Belarus, and has above all temporarily secured his power base by means of suppression and a now tenuous monopoly on information.
The European Union and its member states would be well advised to refuse to recognise the elections as being democratic, in other words, as being free and fair, and to further restrict those ties with the regime which are still in place. The European Union and its member states would be well advised to tackle the many deficiencies in their direct dealings with the political and social structures in the civil society in Belarus. As part of a long overdue European Political Strategy for Belarus, a comprehensive, long-term programme of action must be developed, the aim of which must be to support the country and its population in their efforts to take their legitimate place among the democratic European states. The majority of the population in Belarus is placing its hopes on an effective European commitment and on political solidarity within Europe with the fight for freedom conducted by the democratic and civic forces against tyranny and for the freedom of the people of Belarus.