Presidential Election, 9 September 2001
ODIHR established a limited election observation mission in Minsk on 17 August and shortly thereafter started monitoring the electoral process with 27 experts and long-term observers deployed in the capital and seven regional centers. Regrettably, due to a delayed invitation by the authorities of Belarus, ODIHR limited its observation to the last three weeks of the electoral process only.
Headed by Mr. Hrair Balian, the mission included nationals from 20 OSCE participating States and 293 short-term observers were deployed.
According to the mission's final report: "There were fundamental flaws in the electoral process, some of which are specific to the political situation in Belarus, including:
• A political regime that is not accustomed to and does everything in its power to block the opposition;
• Executive structures with extensive powers, including rule by presidential decree, that are not balanced with commensurate legislative controls, and that allow the arbitrary changing of the electoral environment;
• A legislative framework that still fails to ensure the independence of election administration bodies, the integrity of the voting results tabulation process, free and fair campaign conditions, and imposes excessive restrictions for campaigning and observers;
• The legal provisions for early voting do not guarantee the proper control and counting of early votes;
• An election administration system that is overly dependent on the executive branch of government from the national to the local community levels, and is partial;
• A campaign environment seriously to the disadvantage of the opposition candidates;
• A campaign of intimidation directed against opposition activists, domestic observation organizations, opposition and independent media, and a smear campaign against international observers; and
• Highly biased State-controlled media and censorship against the independent print media."
For election day, the mission was joined by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the European Parliament.