Presidential election campaign launches in August 2015

By Alexey Alexandrov

Parliamentary lobbies offer an opportunity for communication: official and informal. Sometimes, more important news is launched. Recently, deputies adopted much debated amendments to election legislation (second reading) and, afterwards, the Chair of the Central Election Commission, Lidia Yermoshina, announced that the Presidential election campaign would launch in August, 2015, with elections no later than November 20th.

Ms. Yermoshina notes that, in line with new legislation, the Presidential elections are to take place no earlier than two months while the election campaign is to be launched no later than five months before the current Presidential term is due to expire. She reminded, “Alexander Lukashenko was inaugurated on January 20th, 2011. Accordingly, the Presidential term of office expires on January 20th, 2016.”

Evidently, the dates are precisely calculated. No doubt, the amendments regarding candidates’ collection of election funds, territorial election commissions and specified campaigning rules (which now need the Council of the Republic’s approval and the President’s signing) will come into force in time for the forthcoming campaign.

At their first reading, amendments to the Code of Administrative Violations and the Code of Execution Procedure were adopted and voting took place on amendments to the Civil Procedural Code. Only professionals can distinguish all the changes but some can be explained here. 

Supreme Court Chairman Valentin Sukalo presented changes to administrative legislation, reflecting the Presidential Address and dealing with general courts’ development. Priorities include reducing the burden on judges, reasonable procedural economy, promptness and accessibility of justice. At present, each judge oversees up to a hundred administrative cases monthly, which can be too great a number to allow them to tackle more serious conflicts. The draft law proposes empowering Interior Ministry bodies to deal with cases of drinking in public places and coming to work under the influence of alcohol.

The law may need to be toughened in cases of failure to pay fines imposed by courts; such fines may even become part of criminal law. Deputy Larisa Bogdanovich asked Mr. Sukalo whether judges remember the initiative voiced during the previous National Assembly session, to which he replied that the proposal has been many times discussed with interested state agencies. “We can foresee no criminal sanctions which would inspire quicker payment,” he admitted. Of course, imprisonment does not help someone in their ability to pay a fine, so this proposal has been vetoed; clearly, a delicate approach is required. 

Deputies have ratified an agreement between the Belarusian and Turkish governments on re-admission, aiming to ensure Belarusian-Turkish visa-free travel.
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