Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Ongoing elections have been most democratic since 2000, top election official says

Syarhey KARALEVICH, Naviny.by

The ongoing elections for the House of Representatives have been the most democratic in the country since 2000, Lidziya Yarmoshyna, head of the central election commission, told reporters in Minsk on Wednesday after casting her ballot at a polling station in Electoral District No. 105.

Ms. Yarmoshyna noted that the voter turnout on the first day of early voting was usual for Belarus. Everything is habitual and traditional, she said. The most important thing is that no voters have complained that their choice is not free.

While commenting on some observers allegation of authorities compelling university students to vote, Ms. Yarmoshyna claimed that there were no instances of voting under compulsion. There is just a high voter turnout, she said.

She noted that it would not be a violation of regulations if some higher education institutions lured students into voting early by promising to give them two days off if they did so. This means the granting of a privilege rather than coercion, she said. University administrations thereby encourage students to vote in the elections. This does not run counter to electoral regulations.

Ms. Yarmoshyna said that she had voted for a person who has already achieved something in life, gained prominence, made a big fortune and has an excellent education. A candidate should have some distinguishing feature, she said. I voted for the person I know.

There are six candidates on the ballot in Electoral District No. 105, including Kiryl Herasimaw, a departmental head with a social services center in Minsks Tsentralny district who is a member of the Communist Party of Belarus; Iryna Darafeyeva, a renowned pop singer who heads a department at Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts; Andrey Kozik, the son of a former chairperson of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus; Uladzimir Padhol, a member of the Belarusian Popular Front; Viktar Tsyareshchanka, an economist who was a candidate in the 2010 presidential election; and Aleh Chasalaw, deputy director general of a construction company who is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party.