The Misuse of Elections & the Belarusian Struggle
with guest speaker Alexander Shlyk, the Special Representative for Elections of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarusian opposition leader
We are happy to announce that our next guest will be Alexander Shlyk, the Special Representative for Elections of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarusian opposition leader. Prior to this, Alexander Shlyk was the head of the Election Department of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), which over the last 20 years has observed over 200 elections and worked to strengthen and secure democratic processes across 57 countries. Among them Belarus and Russia.
After the fraudulent Belarusian presidential election of August 2020 in favour of the autocratic ruler Alexander Lukashenko rather than the rightful winner Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, thousands of people started taking to the streets. They demanded free and fair elections and the resignation of Lukashenko. A brutal crackdown followed. Since then excessive force by law enforcement, the ongoing mass detention of peaceful protesters and the widespread and systematic use of torture and ill-treatment in detention, including sexual violence, have characterized the authorities’ actions.
The OSCE has closely monitored the situation in Belarus and called for an immediate end of human rights violations and an end to the misuse of the electoral system. Although OSCE election observers have found widespread irregularities during the August election, Belarusian authorities have refused to reform the election procedures so as to guarantee their independence, impartiality and effectiveness. What is it like to be the Representative for Elections in a country where electoral processes are neither transparent nor fair? Can intergovernmental institutions such as the OSCE play a role in ensuring fair elections in other states, or is it impossible to effectively interfere into national election procedures? What has election monitoring achieved in the past, and why does it matter?
If you are interested in the work behind ensuring free and fair elections, and its challenges, join us on 13 April at 17:00 (CET) for a lively discussion on the situation in Belarus and the role of international institutions in protecting democracy through a fair transfer of power by the ballot.