(January 3, 2017 – April 30, 2017)

Outcomes and achievements of activities in Gomel

In 2015, Our House has come up with 10 requirements that the Belarusian deputies are expected to meet, including providing feedback to constituencies on a regular basis and being available for contacts in real time and through e-mails among others.

The campaign within the framework of which Our House is trying to hold deputies accountable has started two year ago and will be continued until all of the deputies (those who are members of the 21 local councils and those in the National Parliament) are able to meet all 10 requirements of Our HouseOur House is the only organization in Belarus that consistently strives for change at the local level. Not a single other Belarusian non-governmental organization has come up with similar requests and achieved similar results.

Since our expertise and our achievements are quite unique in Belarus where the citizens customarily believe that nothing is possible to change and nothing is possible to achieve, we decided to inform you about the local offices of Our House and the outcomes of their work.

Let’s start with Gomel. The leader of Our House for Gomel region is Andrei Aksenov.

Gomel outcomes: key indicators for January-April

  1. No.of meetings with deputies and other officials in their office hours – 12.
  2. No. of communications submitted in written and electronic forms or delivered orally – 23.
  3. No. of local mini campaigns in Gomel and other towns – 23.
  4. No. of street actions to advocate for finding a solution to a particular local issue – 1.
  5. No. of local issues which activists and other citizens resolved with our assistance – 15.
  6. No. of articles about activities in Gomel published on Our House’s website – 45.
  7. No. of articles about activities in Gomel published on local and national websites– 10.

15 achivements of Our House in Gomel
(January 3, 2017 – April 30, 2017)
(meeting the 10 requirements of Our House, reporting on budgets, etc.)

One of the local councilors reported back to constituency about the work done in 2016
The fact of the report was covered by media

1) On January 12, Korotkevich I.M., a member of the Gomerl City Council representing the electoral district No.15 has organized a meeting with his constituency to report about the outcomes of his work  in January to December 2016. The meeting organized on request of Our Hose was held locally in the building of the Housing and Utilities Administration no 9. Information about the meeting was published online on the national and regional websites,  quotes from the councillors presentation appeared on the website of Our House and the article entitled Meeting with the Constituency was published in the Selmashevets newspaper (January 19, no4 pp.1-2).

Mobile phone number of a local councilor appeared on the official website of the Gomel City Executive Committee

2) On January 16,  Chekanov D.V. a local councilor representing the electoral district No. 37 has published his mobile phone number on the official website of  the Gomel City Executive Committee (click on tab Vlast, select Gorodskoi sovet deputatov – select Deputaty Gorsoveta) in response to the request of Our House activists.

Information about a local councilor published in the local newspaper
Gomelskie Vedomosti

3) On January 19, an article entitled In the Form of Open Dialogue was published in the local newspaper Gomelskie Vedomosti (no7, p.3. Deputatskii korpus column). The article was published on request from the Our House activists and informed the readers that Litvinova N.M., a local councilor representing the electoral district No. 35 will be responding to questions of  her constituency if they call the designated hotline.

The plan and timeline for the maintenance of the courtyards for 2017 published on the website of the city Housing and Utilities Administration

4) On January 27, the 2017 plan and timeline for the maintenance of the roads and sidewalks in the courtyards was published on the website of the Gomel City Housing and Utilities Administration (section Documenty). The plan was published on request of the Our House’s activists.

The plan lists 503 housing blocks whose courtyards are scheduled for repairs.

An e-mail address of local councilor published on the official website of the City Executive Committee

5) On January 31– a personal e-mail address of Litvinova N.M., a Deputy Head оf the Gomel City Council and a local councilor representing electoral district No. 35 (click on tab Vlast, select Gorodskoi sovet deputatov – select Deputaty Gorsoveta) was published on the official website of the Gomel City Executive Committee in response to the request of the Our House’s activists.

A link to the personal website of a local councilor published on the official website of the City Executive Committee

6) On January 31 a link to the personal website of Liashenko A.V..,a local councilor representing f electoral district No. 35  was published on the official website of the Gomel City Executive Committee (click on tab Vlast, select Gorodskoi sovet deputatov – select Deputaty Gorsoveta) in lieu of the e-mail address (the website visitors can use an active option “Send a message to the local councilor”).

A local councilor had his office hours changed

7) On February 10, Korotkevich I. M.,  a councilor representing electoral district No. 15 has updated information about his office hours on the official website  of the Gomel City Executive Council (click on tab Vlast, select Gorodskoi sovet deputatov – select Grafik Priema Deputatov). The information was updated in response to the request of Our House’s activists. The actual office hours during which the councilor receives citizens were shifted from every second Thursday of even months (from18.00 to 19.00) to 3d Wednesday of even months. The meetings will take place in the office of the Head of the Housing and Utilities Administration.

A councilor’s report published in the media and on the websited of the City Executive Committee

8) A 2016 report of Litvinova N.M., a local councilor representing electoral district No. 35, was published on different platforms on February 9, 10, 14 in response to the requests of Our House’s activists. The media outlets which published the report included city newspaper Gomelskie Novosti, for which the Gomel City Council is one of the cofounders; and the official website of the Gomel City Executive Committee (News section). A separate article with the report appeared in the newspaper Gomelskie Vedomosti (Guided by the voters needs, February 14, no 18, p.3).

Councilor’s office hours shifted to evening

9) On February 27, Evmenenko V.M. a local councilor representing electoral district No. 2 has updated information about his office hours (first Tuesday of each month between 17.00 and 19.00 in the conference hall of the secondary school no 29, Ogorenko street 29 a) on the official website (click on tab Vlast, select Gorodskoi sovet deputatov – select Grafik Priema Deputatov) of the Gomel City Executive Council in response to the request by the Our House’s activists.

Gomel city 2017 budget published on the official website of the Gomel City Executive Committee

10) On March 20 the Decision of the Gomel City Council No. 128 from December 28, 2018 On City Budget has been published on the official website of the Gomel City Executive Committee (full text with all the appendices) in response to the the request by the Our House’s activists. To find the relevant document click on Vlast then go to Gorodskoi Sovet Deputatov and select Resehiniia Soveta.

Office hours shifted to afternoon and evening (after 17.00)

11) On January 16 Radchenko V.N.  a local councilor representing electoral district no 9 has shifted his office hours from morning (between 8. 00 and 14.00) to afternoon (between 14.00 and 17.30) in response to the request by the Our House’s activists and updated the relevant data on the official website (click on tab Vlast, select Gorodskoi sovet deputatov – select Grafik Priema Deputatov) of the Gomel City Executive Council.

The Deputy Head of the Gomel City Executive Council now receives callers in the evening as well

12) On January 20, updated information about the office hours of Rediuk S.A., the Deputy Head of the Gomel Executive Committee appeared on the Committee’s official website (go to Dialog s Vlast’u and select Grafik lichnogo priema). The Deputy Head receives callers three times each month and one of those is periods is scheduled for the afternoon (between 14.00 and 20.00) instead of the morning (between 8.00 and 13.00) as it used to be before. The change happened due to the efforts of Our Houses’s activists.

13) On January 20  – updated information about the office hours of Sivakov A.I., the 1st Deputy Head of the Gomel Executive Committee appeared on the Committee’s official website (go to Dialog s Vlast’u and select Grafik lichnogo priema). One of the periods for receiving callers was rescheduled for the afternoon (3d Wednesday of each month between 14.00 до 20.00); it is now possible to approach the Deputy Head three times per month.

Outdoor lighting along the pavement between the Athletics Place and Golovatskogo street repaired

14) On March 14 the municipal company Gomelgorsvet repaired and switched on the outdoor lighting along the pavement which connects the Dynamo Atheltics Palace and Golovatskogo street. The outdoor lights were put in place in November 2017 but had never functioned properly. Due to the pressure from the Our House’s activists two of the street laps were repaired and the other seven received new light bulbs and dome lamps.

Additional information on the technical features of the Citizens’ electronic messages tab added to the website

15) On April 10 – user guidelines of the official website of the Gomel City executive Committee were updated to include requirements which should be met in order to use the Citizen’s electronic messages function of the website. Due to the request of the Our House’s activists all the visitors are now informed that the body of the message should not exceed more than 1000 characters, while the size of the attachment should not be more than 4 MB.  Acceptable format for the attached documents include doc, docx, rtf, pdf, jpg, jpeg, png, tiff, txt, rar, zip.

Key highlights of work in Gomel

We would like to specially highlight two out of the 15 outcomes of work in Gomel which are of crucial importance both for Gomel and for the country as whole.

  1. Local councilors have started to report back to their constituencies on the regular basis; accountability of councilors to their constituencies represented by the activists of Our House is a key element of democratization and achieving government transparency on the local level.
  2. Due to the efforts of the Our House activists Gomel became the first Belaruisan city to publicize its budget in 2015; ever since all the budgets have been made publicly available on the regular basis.

Why is this important?

  1. These results are sustainable, as we have seen them several times in a row. The local coucilors are gradually acquiring the necessary skills of publicizing local budget and providing regular feedback to the citizens. We can claim that grassroots democratization in Belarus has started and is on its way. The activists of Our House might stop demanding feedback from local councilors, but the reports will continue to be made available to the public.
  2. These changes are democratic and grassroots since they are based on the public request, namely on the demands of the Our House’s In other words due to Our House’s efforts citizens are slowly getting into a position of making decisions and impacting the decisions made by the authorities.

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