Russia election observers keep mum on Belarus elections

Formal reports on the results of December's presidential elections in Belarus were first delayed before being canceled by observers from the Russian Central Election Commission, or CEC, in Minsk, according to news reports.

The presentation of the election report was first scheduled for Dec. 23, but was then postponed until January before finally cancelled outright, Belarusian online news outlet Telegraf reported Monday.

According to CEC head Vladimir Churov, the first attempt to speak on the report failed because Deputy Chairman Leonid Ivlev "had to prepare and compile the information received."

Thousands of people protested in the streets of Minsk on the night of the election, Dec. 19, against what they perceived as election fraud. Hundreds were imprisoned, including opposition candidates.

Ivlev explained some of the confusion over the elections for Russian observers, saying, "The election commissions in Belarus are under the clear control of the executive power," and that Belarusian legislation does not regulate a number of important points. The details of the vote-counting process are not regulated, and ballots are just "piled up, while in Russia, they are laid out in individual stacks," the deputy added.

Later, Ivlev reported that he "had forgotten everything" about the elections in Belarus and therefore there would be no public report on the monitoring results. CEC member Ihor Borisov, an observer of the CIS mission, defended the lack of a report, saying "such reports are not obligatory."

"We've been short-term observers. We checked the polling stations right before the vote on Dec. 19, looked at the structure of the work organized, the process of voting, as well as the final phase of the elections. The mission concluded that there were no facts to question in the final results," Borisov told Telegraf.

The observer said the events had not been assessed before and after the election because it was not within the mandate of the mission.

"Otherwise, one can go very deeply and begin to assess the political system up to the constitution. But one should respect the national constitution of another country," said Borisov.

According to Belarusian political analyst Valeri Karbalevich, the position of the CEC is related to Moscow's unclear attitude to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. The expert said Dmitry Medvedev congratulated the re-elected Lukashenko "cautiously."

The Russian media, however, has not shied away from criticizing the problems with democracy in Belarus, Karbalevich told Telegraf.

About 60 people from Russia's CEC were in Belarus to observe the elections.


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