Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Judge upholds ballot access denial for Milinkevich

A judge of the Supreme Court of Belarus on Wednesday upheld the central election commission's decision to deny registration as a parliamentary candidate to Alyaksandr Milinkevich, chairperson of the Movement for Freedom.

The Supreme Court has heard appeals by 13 of the 17 parliamentary hopefuls who were denied access to the ballot, the Court's spokesperson, Maryya Lapo, told BelaPAN on Wednesday afternoon. Only one hopeful, former presidential candidate Viktar Tsyareshchanka, had his registration denial reversed.

Later in the day, the Court was to consider appeals by Ihar Pyosikaw and Dzmitry Zholik. The hearing of appeals by opposition activists Artur Finkevich and Mikhail Pashkevich is scheduled for Thursday.

In August, a district election commission said that that Mr. Milinkevich should not be granted registration because too many of his ballot-access signatures were invalid. The central election commission upheld the decision.

In his appeal, Mr. Milinkevich, who sought to run for the House of Representatives in Uruchskaya Electoral District No. 109 in Minsk, argued that he had enough valid ballot-access signatures for registration as a candidate. The signatures declared by the election authorities "invalid" were signatures that had already been crossed off by his nomination group and should not have been taken into account and examined at all, according to the appeal.

Electoral regulations do not say how signatures should be removed from sheets by nomination groups, Mr. Milinkevich said.

Mr. Milinkevich said that he had gathered 2,500 ballot-access signatures, while parliamentary hopefuls are required to collect just 1000 valid signatures to be granted access to the ballot.