Belarus: Early Voting Boosts Turnout Amid Calls to Boycott Elections

More than 39,000 users have joined the Stop Luka [be, ru] VKontakte group, which is urging voters to boycott the Sep. 23 parliamentary election in Belarus (the “non-election,” as The Economist's Eastern Approaches blog calls it):

[…] When we come to the polling station, we put our signatures and “vote.” The only thing that matter here is the turnout, which legitimizes the regime, and our illusion that we are making “some sort of a choice.” […]

There's no point voting – your vote will be stolen. There's no one to vote for – only pro-regime bureaucrats and special services’ proxies are running. There's no use coming to the polling station and thus complying with falsifications. Only the boycott. Only the refusal to cooperate with the regime. […]

It's easy to steal the vote, but impossible to falsify the turnout. If Belarusians don't show up at the polling stations, it will be visible with the naked eye. And it will mean that the people oppose the tyrant. […]

If you're boycotting the election, you're helping your country to make a step towards freedom. […] It's up to you to choose whether to play the dictator's games or to refuse to help [President Aleksandr Lukashenko]. […]

A banner calling to boycott the Sep. 23 “election” in Belarus, posted in the “Stop Luka” VKontakte community.

It appears, however, that there'll be no problems with the turnout.

Journalist Pavel Sheremet wrote [ru] on Facebook on Thursday, Sep. 20, that 3 percent of the voters had cast their votes on the first day of early voting.

User Aleh Pov pointed out [ru] in a comment to Sheremet that on the second day the turnout was already 7 percent:

[…] At this rate, we'll have 25 percent by Sep. 22.

User Irena Ławrowska posted this comment [be]:

Just returned from the hairdresser's… [Educated the ladies] there – and what do you think? Most of them aren't going [to vote]. Among those who are going [to the polling stations] are […] the pensioners, because they've never skipped a vote, [those who couldn't care less], because “their boss asked them to,” and, of course, the complete “blondes”!

On Friday, BelarusPartisan reported [ru] on Facebook that 12.5 percent of the votes have been cast in the first three days of the early voting.

Invitation to the parliamentary election in Belarus: “23 September 2012 – Elections of the members of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus – Everyone come to the election!” (Image in public domain.)

In another Facebook post, Sheremet shared [ru] BelarusPartisan's photo of a group of soldiers queueing for an organized early vote in Machulishchi [ru], a village near Minsk that houses a military base. Below are some of the readers’ comments:

Lyudmila Saakyan:

The patience of Belarusians must end eventually.

Vadim Savransky:

I think Belarus will explode sooner or later. This cannot go on forever.

Marina Pavlova:

It can [go on forever].

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