in their dealings with 27 local councils in Belarus

(January-August 2018)

Whenever people talk about Belarus, they usually mention problems, repressions and the shrinking of the space for the work of civil society. This is true to a considerable extent, but the situation is not that hopeless and there are still lots of opportunities for the work of CSOs and political organizations.

Today we would like to present a report on our successes in the implementation of the campaign “10 demands of Our House to the Local Councils” targeted toward local councils between January and August 2018. The demands are laid out here.

It is important to understand that area around our demands to improve the work of members of local councils is not regulated by law: the law, on the one hand, does not prohibit CSOs to submit demands, but, on the other hand, does not oblige councillors to comply with them. Thus, whenever members of local councils accede to our demands, they do so solely because they yield to the non-violent but persistent pressure by local activists of Our House on them.

The successes of Our House’s local activists in pushing forward with these demands to local councils are the following:

  1. Publicly accessible local budgets. As of today, 18 out of 27 local councils have published their budgets at the request of Our House. The budgets have been published in the local administrations’ web sites only in the localities where Our House operates. No local budget has been published in the local administrations’ web sites outside the area of Our House’s activity. It is important to know that the Belarusian legislation does not oblige the local councils to publish their budgets. They have done it only after the insistent demands by Our House’s activists.

  2. Reporting by elected deputies. At the request of activists of Our House, in particular the head of Our House’s branch in Slutsk Tamara Blinova, the “Reporting timetable for the members of the Slutsk District Council of the 28th Convocation for the first half of the year” has been published on the official website of the Slutsk District Executive Committee (under the heading “Regional Government,” section “District Council”). All the 40 councillors are now subject to the reporting requirement (all the reports were delivered between July 6 and July 31, 2018).

  3. Internal regulations of local councils. In 2018, 12 out of 27 councils (The “27 councils” are the councils of the localities where Our House operates) have published their internal regulations.

  4. Presidium of local councils. In 2018, at the request of Our House’s activists, 21 out of 27 local councils have made public their Presidium of local councils members.

  5. Council commissions. In 2018, at the request of Our House’s activists, 19 out of 27 local councils have published the names of the members of local council commissions.

  6. Decisions made during sessions. In 2018, at the request of Our House activists, 21 out of 27 local councils have published the decisions that were made during their sessions.

  7. Reception of citizens by the elected deputies at a convenient time. In 2018, at the request of Our House’s activists, 529 elected councillors have been receiving citizens during non-working hours or after 5pm. 16 out of 1166 councillors of the 28th Convocation covered by our monitoring started receiving citizens on Saturdays (in addition to the receptions on working days).

  8. Deputies’ e-mails. In 2018, at the request of Our House’s activists, 49 councillors have published their emails to facilitate communication with their voters.

  9. Mobile phone numbers of members of local councils. In 2018, at the request of Our House’s activists, 66 councillors have published their mobile phone numbers to facilitate communication with their voters. One member of local council, however, got scared of his own courage and removed his phone number

Conclusions of our activity in 2018:

  1. Calm but persistent step by step work on pushing forward the “10 demands of Our House to the local councils” has brought good and sustainable results.

  2. Each victory and new successes in pushing forward the “10 demands” were preceded by numerous letters to, meetings with and phone calls to members of local councils made by Our House’s activists. The members of local councils have no particular motivation to do something on their own initiative, but when under the pressure of Our House’s activists, they often go in the right direction.

  3. The success of “The ten demands of Our House to the Local Councils” was possible due to the support of voters rather than to the good will of the elected deputies who were gently but still pressured into what they saw as more work. Wide citizens’ support was a factor that was difficult to dismiss by the members of local councils out of fear of complaints so, the “10 demands” slowly but surely are getting implemented.

THE “PEOPLE’S DEPUTY” CAMPAIGN

(January – September 2018)

27 LOCAL COUNCILS OF THE 28th CONVOCATION

ON OFFICIAL WEBSITES OF LOCAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEES

(including the 20 largest cities in Belarus)

• Quantity of councils: regional – 6, basic (city) – 10, basic (district) – 11,

• the total amount of constituencies (members of local councils) – 1167 (1166).

Councils of regional level (6): Minsk, Gomel’, Mogilev, Vitebsk, Grodno, Brest.

Councils of basic level (city councils) (10): Minsk, Gomel, Mogilev, Vitebsk, Grodno, Brest, Bobruisk, Baranovichi, Pinsk, Novopolotsk.

Councils of basic level (district councils) (11): Borisov, Orsha, Mozyr, Soligorsk, Lida, Molodechno, Polotsk, Zhlobin, Svetlogorsk, Rechitsa, Slutsk.

The elections to the local сouncils took place on February 18, 2018.

The first (kick-off) sessions of the councils were held in the early March 2018.

At the demands of Our House’s activists, the new information about the councils began to appear on the websites from March 2018 onwards.

SUMMARY TABLE on the compliance by the local councils the 28th Convocation of the demands of Our House to the members of the local councils in 2018

ON PUBLISHING THE INFORMATION OF PUBLIC INTEREST ON THE WEBSITES OF LOCAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEES

Demands of Our House

March 31, 2018

(regional + city + district) = TOTAL

June 8, 2018

(regional + city + district) = TOTAL

September 8, 2018

(regional + city + district) = TOTAL

The dynamics of change over 2018

(the state as the end of March

the state at the beginning of September

The number of the councils having published the internal regulations

(2+6+4)=12

(not all the websites of Executive Committees (EC) are updated)

(2+5+4)=11

(2+6+6)=14

(1211→14→…) +2

The number of the local budgets published in 2018

(3+7+4)=14

(not all the websites of ECs are updated)

(4+8+6)=18

(4+8+6)=18

(1418→18→…) +4

The number of local ECs having made public the Presidium of local councils

(2+5+5)=12

(not all the websites of ECs are updated)

(4+9+6)=19

(5+9+7)=21

(1219→21→…) +9

The number of the websites where the names of the members of council commissions were published

(2+5+5)=12

(not all the websites of ECs are updated)

(4+9+6)=19

(5+8+6)=19

(1219→19→…) +7

The number of the websites of local ECs where decisions taken during councils’ sessions in 2018 were published

(3+4+2)=9

(not all the websites of ECs are updated)

(4+7+6)=17

(3+8+8)=21

(917→21→…) +12

The number of the councillors that receive citizens on non-working days and after 5pm.

(44+198+44)=286

(not all the websites of ECs are updated)

(68+301+116)=485

(68+274+187)=529

(286485→529→…) +243

The number of the councillors that published their personal emails

(0+7+0)=7

(not all the websites of ECs are updated)

(0+48+0)=48

(0+48+1)=49

(748→49→…) +42

The number of the councillors that published their mobile phone numbers

(8+22+12)=42

(not all the websites of ECs are updated)

(8+43+15)=66

(some modifications and additions are possible)

(9+41+15)=65

(some modifications and additions are possible)

(4266→65→…) +24

The number of the 2018 reports published by councillors

(0+0+0)=0

(6 months have not passed since the day of the first sessions)

(0+0+0)=0

(6 months have not passed since the day of the first sessions)

(0+0+1)=1

(reporting timetable for the members of Slutskiy District Council for the first half of 2018)

(00→1→…) +1

The quantity of the 2018 Activity Plans published on websites

(0+0+0)=0

(not all the websites of ECs are updated)

(1+1+2)=4

(1+2+4)=7

(04→7→…) +7

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