Belarus began voting on Sunday in a presidential election that saw authoritarian Alexander Lukashenko, in power for more than a quarter of a century, confront an unexpected young opponent who mobilized the masses despite repression.
Belarus’s authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko is taking part in the race on Sunday, August 9, for the sixth time in a row. With power for more than a quarter of a century, he faces an unexpected young opponent who has mobilized the masses despite oppression.
Sunday’s opinion poll, which opened at 08.00 local (17.00) and is scheduled to take place until kl. 20.00 (GMT), has been preceded by an early vote since Tuesday, in which 41.7% participated according to the authorities.
The Belarussian government has doubled its efforts to prevent the emergence of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, arrested the head of its campaign headquarters on Saturday, briefly arrested another key ally of the opponent the same day and since late July condemned a conspiracy of Russian opponents and mercenaries to put on fire and blood.
But Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a 37-year-old teacher of English through education, held on even though she was “scared every day,” she said on Friday. “Thank you for your support and trust (…) let’s wake up in a new country,” she re-launched to her supporters in a video released on Saturday, condemning the arrests of recent days and demanding vigilance in the face of fraud.
His supporters went to the polls on Saturday morning wearing sanitary masks and especially white bracelets, as a sign of recognition at the request of Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa, who also invited them to send pictures of their votes to organize an independent vote.
She says she has no illusions about the outcome because “shameless fraud” has already been committed according to her at the time of the early vote. Especially since the number of independent observers has decreased to a minimum.
In the face of this “worrying information”, France, Germany and Poland demanded a “free and fair” vote. The results will be announced overnight or Monday.
Demonstrations by those in power can not be ruled out if the opposition considers the vote to be forged. Alexander Lukashenko, for his part, clearly indicated that he would not hesitate to distribute them. Attorney General Alexandre Koniouk, for his part, asked voters to be “reasonable” and not to participate in unauthorized demonstrations.
Three women standing up to Alexander Lukashenko
Before Svetlana Tikhanovskaya surprisingly appeared, Alexander Lukashenko, a 65-year-old ex-sovkhoz director, eliminated his main competitors in the spring and early summer: two of them are imprisoned, a third is Three other candidates are on the way, but no one has been able to mobilize.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya introduces herself as an “ordinary woman, mother and wife” who at short notice replaced her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky, a blogger who was imprisoned in May while campaigning.
Described as a “poor girl” by Alexander Loukachenko, she knew how to mobilize despite the fact that Belarus has never been able to see the emergence of a united and structured opposition.
For this, she teamed up with two other women: Veronika Tsepkalo, a companion to an opponent in exile, and Maria Kolesnikova, campaign manager for Viktor Babaryko, a former banker imprisoned when he wanted to present himself.
In the event of victory, she promised to stay in power just long enough to liberate “political prisoners”, organize constitutional reforms and hold new elections.
Minsk accused Moscow of attempting to destabilize
Sunday’s vote also takes place in an atmosphere of distrust of Moscow, of which Alexander Lukashenko is both the closest and the most turbulent ally.
Never in 26 years have tensions been so concrete: for Alexander Lukashenko, the Kremlin puppets intend to make Belarus a vassal.
Presidential elections in Belarus: Minsk accused Moscow of trying to destabilize
At the end of July, 33 Russians, suspected mercenaries of the opaque private military group Wagner, known for being close to Russian power, were arrested on charges of plotting a “massacre” in Minsk. Moscow denied the allegations and condemned the “spectacle”.With AFP