Competitor demands election commission issue warning to Lukashenka

On June 1, wannabe presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka submitted an appeal to the Central Election Commission (CEC), pointing out the facts of alleged violations of the law.

In his appeal, the potential rival made mention of the recent statements of incumbent president Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Babaryka quotes the Belarusian leader’s sayings which can be interpreted as insulting certain community groups and slandering against the candidate himself. As reported earlier, Lukashenka accused Babaryka of lying and hinted that the latter received funds from foreign countries. The head of state menacingly warned that ‘the banker should think where he will work after the election’. He also stated that the Belarusians would never elect a female president.

“Given the above, I believe that on the basis of the facts detailed in paragraph 2 of the appeal, a warning shall be issued to Alyaksandr R. Lukashenka in accordance with Art. 47 of the Electoral Code of Belarus [‘restrictions during the election campaign’ –],” the document reads.

Babaryka demands the authorities provide him with the opportunity to refute the slander in state-run media outlets. He also urged Belarusians to reveal the cases of electoral law violations and promised support to the people who face persecution for not being silent.

Presidential wannabe focuses on independence, promises to hone Belarusian

Philanthropist and banker Viktar Babaryka had been Chairman of Belgazprombank Board since 2000. On May 12, when he revealed his presidential ambitions, he voluntarily resigned from his senior management job. Belgazprombank’s main shareholders from the Russian side are Gazprom and Gazprombank; in this view, he is often faulted for allegedly being linked to Moscow. At the same time, the prospective candidate has repeatedly put an emphasis on his being Belarusian. According to Babaryka, it is impossible to build an independent state when there is no solid foundation, i.e. culture and national identity.

In May, the Belarusian Central Election Commission registered 15 of 55 initiative groups. It means that over a dozen wannabe candidates got the green light for collecting signatures to be nominated for the 2020 presidential run. There are both establishment and moderate opposition politicians among them.

To officially become a presidential candidate, a contender must get 100,000 signatures for his/her nomination. The initiative groups are to be engaged in collecting signatures from May, 21 to June, 19. The names of the candidates will be made public in mid July.

Fifteen potential candidates for presidency — who are they?