MINSK (Reuters) - Dismissed by the incumbent as too fragile to run Belarus because of their gender, three women have joined forces to try to unseat President Alexander Lukashenko, a man the United States once called Europe’s last dictator.
Lukashenko is expected to extend his grip on power despite the challenge. Western observers do not judge elections in the country to be free and fair.
The EU delegation to non-EU member Belarus said in July that excluding two of Lukashenko’s election rivals “undermines the overall integrity and democratic nature of the elections”, while Europe’s election watchdog expressed concern about “key aspects of the electoral process”.
But a Lukashenko win may not quell public anger, say analysts, and Tikhanouskaya and her allies are well placed to continue to lead a protest movement.
As a candidate, Tikhanouskaya’s first priority is to free all political prisoners and rerun the elections to include all candidates who were barred from standing.
MINSK (The Washington Post )- Opposition groups have united behind his main challenger, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a shy 37-year-old language teacher. She only took up the presidential bid after her husband, popular vlogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, was arrested two days after announcing he planned to run for president.
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Few expect the election will topple 65-year-old Lukashenko, a former Soviet stalwart who has led Belarus since 1994 when Nelson Mandela, O.J. Simpson and Rwanda were in the headlines.
Rights groups and others also warn that Lukashenko has used any means to stay in power. In the past, these have included “manipulated elections and arbitrary decrees,” according a State Department report last year.
Still, there is a new energy among Lukashenko’s long-demoralized critics.
Some of it comes from Tikhanovskaya’s husband, who dubbed Lukashenko a “cockroach” who should be squashed.
People began to turn up at rallies waving bedroom slippers often used to swat the pest.
The Coalition Calls for Free Elections in Belarus
Before the upcoming presidential elections planned for August 9, 2020, the regime in Belarus started its crackdown on the society and political opposition. The International Coalition for Democratic Renewal initiated a statement that brings attention to the escalating violence in Belarus, expressed solidarity with brave people who are being arrested and demand their immediate release. According to Andrei Sannikov, political and social activist, the international solidarity is absolutely crucial in the future political development in Belarus. Among the statement's supporters are Timothy Snyder, Agnieszka Holland, Francis Fukuyama, Philip Zimbardo and many others.
International Coalition for Democratic Renewal (ICDR) a Forum 2000 Foundation project, which is a global initiative of a group of intellectuals, activists and politicians concerned with the expansion of power and Influence of authoritarian regimes and the simultaneous weakening of democratic systems from within. The ICDR aims to reaffirm the fundamental principles of democracy, to take the offensive against the authoritarian opponents of democracy, and to demonstrate solidarity with the brave people who are fighting for freedom in undemocratic systems around the world.
Freedom for Belarus
In Belarus the regime yet again started its crackdown on the society. It is attacking the presidential candidates and their teams, opposition figures, civil society, media and innocent civilians in the run-up of the presidential elections announced by the authorities and scheduled for 9th of August.
The two leading contenders that challenged the incumbent, Siarhei Tsihanousky and Viktar Babaryka are thrown in jail, as well as several members of their teams. The pressure on their supporters continues.
Dozens of activists were jailed for participation in legal peaceful rallies, including prominent opposition leaders Mikola Statkevich and Paval Seviarynets.
There is information that all those detained and arrested are kept in unbearable conditions, in cold cells, deprived even of hygienic items for basic needs, that they are subjected to tortures.
The unlawful and unwarranted detentions of innocent citizens continue on a daily basis, excessive police force is being used.
The behavior of the regime in Belarus runs counter to all international obligations of the country on democracy and election standards.
Human rights and basic freedoms of the Belarusians are grossly violated and it cannot be ignored and tolerated by international community.
We support the people of Belarus that demand respect for their rights and freedoms and stand for free and fair election.
We demand immediate and unconditional release of all those who were subjected to politically motivated detentions and arrests.
We urge the authorities of Belarus to give people back free and fair elections according to international standards that they have been deprived of for a long time.
We also urge the authorities to comply with their international obligations to ensure freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of speech, unblock independent media, and stop harassment of journalists and politically motivated persecutions.
We denounce the escalation of police brutality against peaceful gatherings, journalists, and ordinary citizens, and warn the authorities of Belarus against any use of violence and force during the ongoing political campaign.
We urge international human rights organizations, European Union, democratic countries to react resolutely and take strong measures to prevent the dangerous practices of the authorities in Belarus.
We appeal to the international community to support the people of Belarus in their fight for freedom