2020 Presidential Election. Weekly observation report: May 8-17

Observation of the presidential election is carried out by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” in the framework of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”.


  • the 2020 presidential election in Belarus was announced against the background of an adverse geopolitical situation in the region, and in the conditions of certain progress in the relations between Belarus, the EU and the U.S.;
  • the election was preceded by the process of negotiations between the leaders of Belarus and Russia on the ratification of the so-called “roadmaps for advanced integration”, which caused a crisis in relations between the two countries, hampered by problems with Russian oil and gas supplies to Belarus;
  • the election is taking place against the background of the coronavirus pandemic, which is a serious challenge carrying enormous risks for lives of both the direct participants in the electoral process and other citizens of the country as a whole;
  • the authorities have disregarded the WHO recommendations to take measures to minimize the spread of the pandemic in the country: no quarantine has been officially introduced, many public gatherings have not been banned, including sports events, the nation-wide social labor day and the military parade on May 9;
  • proposals to amend electoral procedures aimed at minimizing the risks of the coronavirus disease during the election were ignored by the Parliament, the Central Election Commission and the Supreme Court. The proposals were prepared by experts of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”;
  • in the period leading up to the election, the authorities failed to demonstrate significant progress and systemic changes aimed at improving the human rights situation in the country. Basic civil and political freedoms are still hampered by significant legislative restrictions. Human rights activists report numerous facts of human rights violations; four people were called political prisoners;
  • the authorities have not taken steps to implement the OSCE ODIHR recommendations made following the observation of the previous presidential election in 2015, as well as last year's parliamentary elections;
  • the general human rights situation deteriorated shortly before the election. Between May 7 and 9, police arrested more than 120 people who took part in peaceful assemblies in various cities of Belarus. Of these, more than 50 were sentenced to short terms of detention for participating in unauthorized rallies, and 20 more were fined. Among them were journalists and human rights activists, including members of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”. These events provoked a negative reaction from international human rights and journalistic organizations, as well as the OSCE and the EU;
  • 55 people applied to the CEC to request the registration of their nomination groups. At the moment, 11 applications are known to have been rejected.