Fear of ukrainian scenario: election campaign in weibrussia

The re-election of President Aleksander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus in an authoritarian manner since 1994, once again seems certain

On 11. October elections will be held in Belarus. The difference from the previous elections: The opposition is hardly expected to protest against "Europe’s last dictator" and the usual means of pressure, such as imprisonment, are lacking.

In a certain way, the regime and the opposition have come closer to each other. Both sides are afraid of a Ukrainian scenario and do not want to risk a conflict before and after the elections on October 11. October and after the election on October 11.

fear of a ukrainian scenario: election campaign in weibrussia

During the election campaign lukashenko sometimes helps to harvest potatoes. Image: president.Gov.By

The "referendum", a coalition of four parties and the most promising opposition bloc, is focusing this year on less confrontation and more on social policy issues – as well as on a woman. 38-year-old Tatsiana Karatkevich, a member of the Belarusian Social Democrats, is the country’s first female presidential candidate.

Tatsiana Karatkevich. Picture: BSDP

As a trained psychologist, she seems more concerned with listening during her encounters with Wahlers. Loud sounds she avoids. Perhaps these are the lessons of the last election. At that time on 19. December 2010 after the election in Minsk tens of thousands took to the streets to demonstrate against the result, the state authorities reacted with violence, even leading opposition politicians were beaten by the police (Mass protests and arrests in Minsk, No place for dissenters)). Lukashenko received international respect and sanctions as a result.

In Belarus, freedom of expression, the right of assembly and the use of the Internet are restricted. Critics of the existing conditions face imprisonment. But thanks to the Ukraine crisis, the Russian head of state was able to act as a mediator and invite the heads of government of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France to Minsk.

At the same time, the 60-year-old positioned himself as a critic of Russia, threatening to withdraw from the Eurasian Trade Union, which became active in January (Belarus’ rapprochement with the West), or calling Vladimir Putin a worse dictator than himself.

Yet the country is as dependent on Russia’s cash injections as it is on Western loans. The domestic economy is in bad shape, with GDP falling by more than three percent in the first half of the year. Thanks also to the Russian television channels, which are very popular in Belarus, Lukashenko cannot afford to take a clearly anti-Russian course. According to polls conducted by the more pro-Western ISEPS institute, only 21.5 percent are against the takeover of Crimea. 47.4 percent are in favor of the independence of "New Russia". In a referendum, almost 30 percent voted in favor of joining Russia, and around 26 percent in favor of joining the EU. If a decision had to be made between joining the EU or Russia, half would be in favor of Russia, and just over 30 percent in favor of the EU. Between 2009 and 2013, sentiment was much more EU-friendly.

Lukashenko is accommodating oppositional Belarusians by officially demanding the use of the previously suppressed Belarusian language for an independent "independent Belarus" and has recently given interviews to journalists critical of the regime. In general, the opposition is considered apathetic and divided.

The once popular writer Vladimir Neklyayev is no longer running for office. With the campaign "Tell the truth", with which he advertised his candidacy in 2010, he wanted to allay the fears of the Belarusian population to criticize the conditions in the country. The citizens of the state should send postcards to the President’s administration criticizing the situation.

Since the opposition could not agree on a candidate, Neklyayev does not want to try again, but founded the movement "For the statehood and independence of Byelorussia", which is intended to convey how the people feel a sense of "Was and responsibility for the fate of the country" can develop. A sense of togetherness is necessary if Russia should threaten the country and a scenario similar to that in Ukraine should play out in Belarus.

Tatsiana Karatkevich refers with her slogan "For peaceful change" probably to the riots in December 2010 as to the fights in Ukraine. She does not specify the changes she wants to bring about, she avoids clear questions, "friendly" "peacefully" and "Dialogue" are heard at a meeting. "

While two older candidates for the office once made pacts with Lukashenko, the Social Democrat, who has been politically active for only five years, has long stood by Vladimir Neklyayev’s side.

Her noncommittal manner has so far been met with neutral reporting in the state media. She seems to have more difficulties in the election campaign with those who want to boycott the vote. Among them are the supporters of Mikalaj Statkevich, like Karatkevich a member of the Social Democrats, who is the only opposition politician still behind bars since 2010. He was sentenced to six years in a labor camp in 2011. If the charismatic 59-year-old, who challenged Lukashenko like no other, is not released in the near future, his supporters do not want to undertake nearer declared boycott of the elections.

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