BHHRG

About BHHRG

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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Transnistria 2006
HITS: 9897 | 19-02-2008, 15:07 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Moldova , Political science

On 3rd March, 2006, the Ukrainian customs authorities suddenly implemented a new system of control along the 310 mile-long border (c. 5000 km) with the internationally-unrecognised republic of Transnistria (PMR). The Ukrainians announced that henceforth they would only permit goods bearing official customs stamps from the Republic of Moldova to enter Ukraine or to transit across its territory. Until 3rd March, the Ukrainian customs had accepted PMR’s customs stamps as validating goods for import into Ukraine or for transit across its territory.
The effect of this sudden unilateral act was to produce a dilemma for the Transnistrian authorities in Tiraspol. Either they could accept the Ukrainian act as a fait accompli which would mean effectively transferring customs revenues to the Moldovan capital Chisinau and renouncing their economic sovereignty and therefore their self-proclaimed independence since 1990, or they could refuse to comply with the Ukrainian demands and in effect accept an embargo on their exports with all the severe economic consequences which would flow from stopping the country’s exports.

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PMR - Presidential Elections Report
HITS: 2284 | 17-01-2006, 04:12 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Moldova , Elections

On 10th December, 2006, the unrecognized republic of Pridnestrovie (PMR) held its fourth presidential elections in a calm, orderly and efficient manner. The British Helsinki Human Rights Group sent two representatives to observe the elections for President and Vice-President of the Republic of Pridnestrovie (PMR) on December 10, 2006. The team visited polling stations in Tiraspol, Rybnitsa, Grigoriopol, Kamenka, and the villages of Podoina, Rashkov, and Malajesti. The observers met the Head of the Regional Electoral Commission in Grigoriopol and the representative of the Grigoriopol region on the Central Election Commission.
The election itself proceeded smoothly in every polling station visited by BHHRG. Both the electoral commissions and the electorate were well-informed on the electoral regulations and procedures. The chairman and secretary of the local commissions, as well as their deputies, had attended seminars on the correct conduct of the elections at the regional commission level. In turn, they had instructed the members of their local commissions in preparation of Election Day.

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Georgia 2005: Opposition Politics
HITS: 2509 | 21-12-2005, 23:28 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Georgia , Media World, PR and human rights

The Media: Soon after Saakashvili became president three late night discussion programmes were pulled from Imedi, Mze and Rustavi 2 television channels. Later, 2 independent TV stations – Iberia and the Ninth Channel – were closed. Action was taken by the authorities according to the (much decried) Russian method of charging media owners with ‘tax avoidance’. This practice came perilously close to shutting down Rustavi 2 when its owner, Erosi Kitsmanishvili was accused of getting above himself in business deals and Rustavi 2 was said to owe $4.5 m. in back tax to the state.[1] Kitsmanishvili was forced out and replaced with regime insiders. Saakashvili had promised not to let what he called the “channel of the victorious” go down.
Now, most shares in the company are owned by Khibar Khalvashi, a friend of Okruashvili. 50% of the shares in Mze are owned by MP Davit Bezhuashvili, brother of Gela, Secretary of the Georgian National Security Council and another 50% by Vano Chkhartishvili, a former Shevardnadze minister. Mze itself has been censored – it was banned from showing the funerals of dead Georgian troops after the debacle in South Ossetia and, again, was “in trouble” for its reporting following prime minister Zhvania’s death.[2] Its daily talk show was halted following the demonstration over the arrest of wrestlers on 30th June.

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Apathy NOT fraud undermines Azerbaijans Parliamentary Election
HITS: 2296 | 17-11-2005, 18:43 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Azerbaijan, Elections

Apathy NOT fraud undermines Azerbaijan’s Parliamentary Election

Controversy surrounds Azerbaijan’s parliamentary elections. Unfortunately, the international media’s focus on the main opposition’s claims of “massive fraud” distract attention from the deeper crisis of legitimacy affecting all Azeri political parties. Barely 40% of registered voters took part in Sunday’s polls. Ordinary Azeris seem cynical about all politicians and their mass abstention sent the message “a plague on all your houses.”

Past performance by a governing elite universally accused of corruption in this potentially oil-rich society and by an opposition riven by personal rivalries barely disguised by the formation of several “united” fronts has led many Azeris to regard politics and politicians with open disdain.

This is a pity because it suggests an unhealthy outlook for Azerbaijan’s chances of establishing democracy, but also because the actual conduct of the elections and the counts in polling stations visited by this Group’s observers was of a high standard. Maybe if Azris had had more confidence in the candidates, many more of them would have voted, At the local level in their neighbourhood polling stations, the standard of conduct of the voting and counting should have given them reason to trust the ballot if they had really wanted to elect a candidate. (Final results are not yet available and so caution about the collation of results is naturally still in order.)

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European Elections in Lithuania, 2004
HITS: 2064 | 8-09-2004, 13:32 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Lithuania , Elections, Political science, Analyzing

Enter the Labour Party: On 13th June, Lithuania also held its first elections to select 13 MPs to the European parliament. From the established parties the Social Democrats won 2 seats, the Liberal-Centrist Union, 2, Homeland Union 2, Liberal Democrats, 1, Farmers and New Democracy, 1. Although Paksas’s Liberal Democrats might have expected to gain support after the acknowledged unpopularity of the impeachment process, the main winner was the upstart Labour Party led by Viktor Uspaskich, a former Social Liberal MP, which won 5 seats.
Lithuania’s Labour Party is a classic jack-in-the-box creation which suddenly appeared in October 2003 and immediately took a lead in the opinion polls. It mirrors similar parties that have emerged, seemingly from nowhere, in several former Communist countries. For instance, the Smer (Direction) party in Slovakia and Bulgaria’s National Movement for Simeon 11 were created to drain support away from genuine opposition parties – in the case of Slovakia, from Vladmir Mečiar’s HZDS and in Bulgaria, from the Socialist Party (BSP). As Paksas continued to attract large numbers to his meet-the-people sessions the possibility presented itself that large numbers would vote Liberal Democrat in parliamentary elections scheduled for October, 2004.

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Elections in Lithuania 2004: Case for the Prosecution
HITS: 2102 | 8-09-2004, 12:42 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Lithuania , Foreign media, Political science

On 25th May, the Lithuanian Constitutional Court issued a wide-ranging ruling banning any impeached person from holding public office for life. In other words, it went far beyond the retroactive law. Since the Constitutional Court’s lengthy ruling has yet to be translated into English, Mr. Šukys kindly explained his understanding of the Court’s decision and its reasoning to the BHHRGs observers a few days after it was announced.
On the day of its judgement the Constitutional Court’s chairman, Egidijus Kuris, and spokesperson, Ramune Sakalauskaite, were widely quoted in the international as well as the Lithuanian media saying that "The Constitutional Court found that the amendments to the law on presidential elections, under which people impeached from their posts cannot be elected for five years, does not run counter to the constitution," [1]

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