To win, to lose, to boycott: Belarusian presidential run 2015
Although incumbent president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko is considered to win this year’s presidential elections without a doubt, he is far from being the only candidate. Initially seven names were to appear on the voting list yet after the official counting of signatures only four are to end the race. Who are they?
Alexander Lukashenko | Alyaksandr Lukashenka
61 years President of Belarus since 1994, independent candidate Submitted signatures: 1 761 145 Signatures considered as authentic: 1 753 380 Officially registered as presidential candidateLukashenko has been the President of Belarus for 21 years. Initially, the Belarusian constitution allowed the president only two five-year terms. After a disputed referendum in October 2004, however, this regulation was abolished, following Lukashenko’s run for office again in 2006 and 2010. Western media frequently calls him the “Europe's last dictator” due to his authoritarian rule.
Sergei Gaidukevich | Siarhei Haidukevich
61 years Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party since 1995 Submitted signatures: 140 735 Signatures considered as authentic: 139 877 Officially registered as presidential candidateGaidukevich ran in the presidential elections in 2001 and 2006. In 2010, he withdrew his candidacy at an early stage. He is considered to have a pro-government attitude and supports a pro-Russian course for Belarus. Gaidukevich’s party was originally founded as a branch of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party (LPD). In 2006, political scientist Valery Karbalevich compared Haidukevich’s controversial and populist statements with those from Vladimir Zhirinowski, the leader of the Russian LDP.
Nikolai Ulakhovich | Mikalaj Ulakhovich
64 years Chairman of the Belarusian Patriotic Party since 2001, supreme Ataman of the organisation “Belarusian Cossacks” Submitted signatures: 159 805 Signatures considered as authentic: 149 819 Officially registered as presidential candidateLukashenko’s long standing friend is promoting a pro-Russian policy. As a political figure, however, Ulakhovich is far from being popular. In fact, his party is largely unknown in Belarus and does not even have a website. Its office has been recently closed down – right in the middle of the election campaign.
Tatyana Korotkevich | Tatsiana Karatkevich
38 years Activist in the Civil Campaign “Say the Truth”, Director of the social institution “Family Playground” since 2013 Submitted signatures: 107 299 Signatures considered as authentic: 105 278 Officially registered as presidential candidateWith her participation in the presidential election 2015, Karatkevich is a newbie on the Belarusian political stage. Nonetheless, she has the support of several parties and movements – “Say the Truth”, the Belarusian Social Democratic Party and the political movement “For Freedom” . Meanwhile the Belarusian People’s Front has withdrawn their support.
In her programme, Karatkevich calls for reforms to enhance the living standards and to strengthen the economy.
According to the news platform TUT.BY, she is the candidate which is most active on the internet, running social media profiles on Instagram, Facebook and its Russian-language equivalent VKontakte.
Anatoly Lebedko | Anatol Lyabedzka
54 years Chairman of the United Civil Party of Belarus since 2000 Submitted signatures: 0 Signatures considered as authentic: 0 Registration as official candidate failedAfter working for Lukashenko in the 1994 presidential election, Lebedko switched to opposition in the late 1990s and has ever since been regarded one of Lukashenko's harshest critics. His participation in anti-government demonstrations ended in arrests. Lebedko’s initiative group did not even hand in a single signature – instead, he supports a boycott of the elections. On 10 September, Mikola Statkevich, former political prisoner and well-known opponent of Lukashenko, called for a protest and Lebedko took part in it.
Sergey Kalyakin | Siarhei Kalyakin
63 years Chairman of the Belarusian United Left Party “A Just World” Submitted signatures: 48 Signatures considered as authentic: 0 Registration as official candidate failedKalyakin has been active in the Communist Party since the Soviet times. When the party split up in 1995, Kalyakin and his party wing took an oppositional stance. He was a potential candidate for the presidency in 2001 but was not able to collect enough signatures to take part in the run. The situation repeated in 2015. Although originally against the election boycott, later he joined other members of the opposition, calling the first part of the electoral process a “farce”.
Victor Tereshchenko | Viktar Tsyareshchanka
65 years Economic Consultant for a trade association since 2011, independent candidate Submitted signatures: 130,404 Signatures considered as authentic: 6,699 Registration as official candidate failedDespite his work in the economic sector, Tereshchenko has been politically active for a long time and ran in the presidential elections back in 1994, 2001 and 2010, though he is far from being widely known or popular. Terereshchenko can neither be considered pro-government nor part of the opposition. He holds a PhD in Economics and an MBA from the University of Delaware, USA and travelled to Europe for training and research purposes. On 9 September, Tereshchenko announced that he would drop out of the election campaign after the Central Election Commission regarded only five percent of his voters’ signatures as authentic. He ended in a hospital with symptoms of poisoning and suspected a deliberate attack on his health.
Zhanna Romanovskaya | Zhanna Ramanouskaya
48 years Vocal coach since 2012, currently registered as unemployed, independent candidate Submitted signatures: 780 Signatures considered as authentic: / Registration as official candidate failedRomanovskaya appeared for the first time in public as a potential candidate for the 2015 election. She is considered to be widely unknown and hardly standing a chance for the upcoming election. Like Tereshenko, she is regarded neither to be pro-government nor to be in line with the opposition. Even more, she seems to act without the support of any organisation, party or movement. She uses her personal account on the online platform Odnoklassniki for electoral campaigning. There she recently published a self-made music video, where she wants to express her "thoughts, emotions and desires" as presidential candidate.