Justice ministry refuses to register Belarusian Christian Democracy party

The justice ministry has once again denied state registration to the Belarusian Christian Democracy (BCD) party.

In a statement posted on its website, the ministry explains that false information was provided about founders of the party. The ministry randomly interviewed 70 people indicated as founders and established that more than half of them could not regarded as such because those people either “did not take part in the founding of the party” or information about them was not true, the statement says.

In particular, according to the ministry, I. Bondaraw, a student at Polatsk State University, said that he was not a founder of the party, had not attended its founding conference and did not know when it was held. Three staff members of the Bykhaw Central District Hospital, A. Zhalyankova, T. Danilava and S. Shambalava, said that they had not attended any founding meetings for the BCD party and did know anything about it, the ministry says. The three women allegedly said that the hospital’s janitor, S. Kachatkova, “collected their signatures” without explaining the purpose. Mr. and Mrs. Zubchanka were included in the list of founders in the Vitsyebsk region, although they have long been living in the Russian Federation and did not stay in Belarus when the founding conference was held or when delegates to the conference were nominated, the ministry says.

The verification also found that many forenames, surnames and addresses in the submitted list of founders were misstated, the ministry notes, adding that many people stated in the list “are not at all founders of this political party.”

“In this regard, guided by Articles 16 and 17 of the Political Parties Law, the justice ministry decided on December 9 to deny state registration to the Belarusian Christian Democracy party,” the statement says.

The ministry’s decision was predictable and expected, Dzyanis Sadowski, executive secretary of the party, commented to BelaPAN on Thursday.

“The ministry’s statement contains the names of some of those who were reported to have been under pressure from the KGB, their employers or local authorities, as a result of which they had to deny being founders,” Mr. Sadowski said.

On November 9, the party’s co-chairmen, Paval Sevyarynets and Vital Rymashewski, filed a complaint about pressure on founders with the Prosecutor General's Office. "However, the Prosecutor General’s Office replied that the complaint had been transferred to the justice ministry, but it was the justice ministry that we complained against," Mr. Rymashewski told BelaPAN.

The BCD party had to hold a repeat founding conference on October 31, as the justice ministry turned down the party's registration application after the first founding conference, which was held in early 2009. The justice ministry then explained that there was evidence of violations of the procedure in the nomination of delegates to the conference, that false information had been provided about founders, and that some people were stated as founders without their knowledge.

Under regulations, there shall be at least 1000 founders residing in Minsk and most of Belarus’ six regions for a political party to be registered.