Before the elections in Belarus remains little more than a week. The main rival of the incumbent President of the country Alexander Lukashenko was Svetlana Tikhanovski housewife, the campaign which the opposition called the brightest over the past 26 years.
“Our goal is to win elections”
About Svetlana Tikhanovski, the world learned after the arrest of her husband, a well-known blogger Sergei Tikhanovski, which because of this failed to register his candidacy for the presidential election. Documents instead filed Svetlana, who, according to her, was never interested in politics. “James, I love you very much. I’m only doing this for you and the people who followed you, believed in you”, – she said confused, standing on the porch of the Central election Commission, after receiving the certificate of registration of the candidate in presidents of Belarus.
Immediately after registration Svetlana Tikhanovski announced the merger with the staffs of other opposition candidates out of the race. Her peers began Veronika Tsepkalo, the wife of Valery Tsepkalo, who fear reprisals went to Moscow, and chief of staff Victor Babariko Maria Kolesnikova. He Babariko, the former head of Belgazprombank, together with his son Edward is in jail on charges of bribery, he faces up to 15 years in prison. “We three were exactly the same purpose, – said Maria Kolesnikova in an interview with Euronews. – Our main goal is to win elections”.
Female trio in a few weeks became the symbol of opposition groups opposed to the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, in power for 26 years. Tikhanovski, inexperienced orator and aspiring politician, traveling the country, collecting full stadiums and squares. Invariably, accompanied by Mary and Veronica. Over the last week, women traveled to 11 cities.
A rally in support of Svetlana Tikhanovski, Veronika Tsepkalo and Maria Kolesnikova.Sergei Grits/2020 Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved
According to Kolesnikova, under the meetings with voters, the authorities often allocate distant areas of the city that are “hard to find”. “But the motivation of the people strong enough to come to support us and to see how many of us, that at the entrance to these places already congested streets and a lot of cars and crowds of people flock she says. Is generally an incredible sense of celebration and a kind of unity of the people.”
In case of a victory on elections Tikhanovski promises to grant Amnesty to prisoners, and within six months to appoint a new election with the participation of the retired from the race candidates. “None of the scientists, analysts could not imagine that at the end of these elections such a hard inflexible authoritarian Belarusian leader will face a housewife, a woman, who, coming to the podium, says frankly that she is not a politician,” says political analyst Alexander klaskovsky.
Experts say that one of the main features of the presidential campaign this year was that election in apolitical Belarusians. According to Klaskouski, the main reason for the success Tikhanovski can be “a touching and humane” the history of her family. “People feel violated justice, and this feeling is very strong in the soul of the people, – the expert believes. – Many people may not understand the political subtleties, but they have a heightened awareness of when the violation of justice.”
“The President is a man, I am absolutely convinced of this”
Lukashenko has repeatedly said he does not believe in the victory in the election of women in Belarus. “We have the Constitution not under a woman. And our society is not Mature enough to vote for a woman. Because we have the Constitution, the President has a strong power, – said the head of state in may. – We have not Lithuania. There was President Dalia Grybauskaite, came poulybalis, sat and went. Not responsible for anything, because there is a parliamentary Republic. We — no. The President is a man, I am absolutely convinced”.
A rally in support of Svetlana Tikhanovski.Sergei Grits/2020 Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Data from the few opinion polls also disappointing. Thus, the analytical center Ecoom on the order of “the Second national TV channel” established that level of trust to Alexander Lukashenko in the country is 78.1% and 72.3 per cent of Belarusians are ready to vote for him. For Svetlana Tikhanovski were ready to vote only 7.5% of respondents. Since Belarus is prohibited for independent social research experts to the results of the survey are skeptical.
Klaskouski agree that the statements of Alexander Lukashenko is not unfounded and can be driven by “political jealousy”. “Once, when a triumphant Lukashenko won the election of 1994 in Belarus, he is also met for this emotional support, he said that will reset zabronzovevshy, cut off from the power of the people, – explained the expert. – And now the regime is perceived for what they are: zabronzovevshy power. Now to gather specially selected people, the opposition in those cities where he arrives, trying to block the house so they didn’t have nothing to say and didn’t do”.
Maria Kolesnikova argues that no feeling of bias on the part of voters. “Bias was expressed only by the head of state when he said, “the Constitution of Belarus is not intended for women”. Or: “to be President should serve.” This is some absolutely sexist stereotypes. From the side of the Belarusian people, and we feel the absolute support and love.”
“Hand Of The Kremlin”
Alexander Lukashenko at the meeting with the security Council of Belarus.Nikolai Petrov/2020 Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved
On Wednesday, the authorities announced the arrest of 32 near Minsk the Russian mercenaries who allegedly worked on the “destabilization of situation before the elections”. Security officers are wanted all over the country about 200 Russians. Against this background, the security Council of Belarus declared about toughening rules of holding mass events, including meetings with the candidates.
“All of our events will take place in a regular mode, – has assured Tikhanovski, after the restrictions announced on the day of the opposition rally in the capital. Will metal detectors be a cordon – everything to make people feel safe.” To comment on the plausibility of the version of the security Council about the “Kremlin’s hand” she did not, as well as to accuse Alexander Lukashenko in an attempt to derail his presidential campaign.
The organizers of the rally in support of oppositionists in Minsk on 30 July planned to collect 75 thousand people. According to some experts, the arrest of fighters PMC “Wagner” became a pretext to tighten control and bring down the protest activity. “The current campaign is going very hard for the incumbent President: unexpectedly high activity of the population, suddenly became popular Svetlana Tikhanovski. In this situation, the authorities are interested to bring down a wave of political activity to prevent possible mass protests, on 9 August,” – said Klaskouski.
Will it win elections?
Despite the strong support during the meetings, Tikhanovski repeatedly said he did not believe in the honesty of the upcoming elections. Kolesnikov also applies to forecasts with care: “It depends on many factors. Including what names will be in the final ballot because there is still the risk of the withdrawal of certain candidates,” she said. According to her, the opposition has access to the platforms, dealing with alternative counting of votes. “We just hope that this time the government will be wise and realize that the electoral majority is not with the incumbent President”, – said the head of staff of Babariko.
Earlier, during a visit to a military unit in Minsk Alexander Lukashenko took part in the exercises at the inconsistent dispersal of protests using water cannons. “Most of all you and I care that we in any case would not allow the destabilization of the situation in our country, – said the head of state. Is our top priority. The question of presidential elections is secondary. Question first, the most important is to save the country”.
Alexander Lukashenko took part in the exercise to disperse rallies.Nikolai Petrov/2020 Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Over the past decade, Belarus experienced several crises. According to the Finance Ministry, Belarus ‘ GDP fell from 170 million Belarusian rubles in 2010 to 131 million in 2019. According to the latest world Bank forecasts that gross domestic product will decrease by 4% in 2020. According to experts, the economic difficulties may become the main enemy of the current leader. “Lukashenka has no answers to the questions that concern people, gather rallies on how to further develop the country. The country is in stagnation, – said Klaskouski. – Lukashenka does not hide his hostility to the reforms and willingness to maintain the status quo by force. And it does not suit a considerable part of Belarusian society, as we see in mass protests. This discontent is not going anywhere”.