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Belarusian Parliamentary Elections in the Internet1

Mikhail Doroshevich, Marina Sokolova

Recent parliamentary elections in Belarus have showed that political actors and civil activists in the country are becoming aware of Internet potential for political struggle and propaganda.2 The election campaign was covered at the web-sites of Central Election Committee (http://www.rec.gov.by/), of Belapan news agency (elections.belapan.com/parliament2004/rus/) and by other online media.

199 parliamentary candidates (49,8% of 400 registered by October 4, 2004) had their web-sites or web-pages. Web-sites of Belarusian democratic coalition "5+" http://www.5plus.info (116 MP candidates web-pages) and of Belarusian Parliament - House of the representatives, Council of Republic (61 MP candidates web-pages) became major online resources giving information about candidates.

5 candidates launched their web-sites before October 17, 2004 elections: Igor Karpenko http://igorkarpenko.at.tut.by/, Alexander Logvinets http://www.suharevo.com/info/lahvinec.html, Konstantin Lukashou www.lukashou.org, Valentin Vechorka http://viacorka.pbnf.org/ (Minsk) and Dmitri Shimanski http://www.shymanski.org/ (Brest). 2 of them - K. Lukashou and A. Logvinets initiated online forums. Valeri Artishevski and Valeri Shumilov (Minsk) referred to their personal web-sites - www.socium.by.ru and http://vshumilov.narod.ru/ - during their election campaign.

Vitebsk regional Lev Sapega Foundation branch activists launched a project which was unique in the Belarusian context. They created web-pages for 8 registered by October 4 regional MP candidates irrespectively of the candidates' political position at http://www.sapega.org/.

At the same time October parliamentary elections campaign made it clear that no political party in Belarus has pursued consistent online election campaign strategy. Belarusian political parties web-sites provided only some sporadic information about few of their MP candidates (see for instance: Belarusian Social Democratic Party (http://www.bsdp.org/bel_rus/statkevich.htm), Belarusian Young Social Democrats (http://www.belmsd.org/sfaces.php?face=gorbachev), Belarusian Republican Party (http://www.rprb.narod.ru/lider.htm), United Civil Party (http://www.ucpb.org/rus/people/index.shtml). Though majority of democratic candidates had their web-pages at the Belarusian democratic coalition "5+"web-site http://www.5plus.info/, the information was scanty and the site hadn't been indexed by search engines.

Web-pages of 10 MP candidates could have been found at online reference - books and directories http://dossier.bymedia.net/index.php?Mode=Person&PersonID=5859; http://who.fpnp.org/wsee/see_sod.phtml?kod=227; http://www.slounik.org/122230.html; http://www.panorama.ru/info/demo/TEXTS/60316.html; http://kupala-theatre.by/rus/administration/davydko.php.

Web-pages of 2 MP candidates were at Molodechno and Mozyr cities web-sites: Nikolai Chursin - at http://www.molodechno.by/modules/_admin/ and Zukovskaya Ludmila - at http://mozyr.by.ru/news/2004/09/?2004090101.

The general data of online election campaign is presented in the table below

Web-Sites, specially to elections5
5+ site116
Belarusian Parliament61
United Civil Party Web-site8
Lev Sapega Foundation branch8

It is impossible to evaluate effectiveness of online election campaign activities as the results of parliamentary elections were forged by the authorities

1The analysis is based on MP candidates web-pages and web-sites search results through www.google.com and www.ya.ru search engines and through Belarusian www.akavita.by, www.open.by; www.zubr.com, catalog.tut.by catalogues.

2At present Internet users comprise 14,3% of the country's population (Source: http://www.e-belarus.org/news/200409281.html)

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