Former political prisoner urges Belarusians to picket on Sunday

Mikalai Statkevich, a 2010 presidential candidate, announced holding legal pickets and rallies in all regional centres and the Belarusian capital on May, 31.

He posted his appeal on the Telegram channel of the People’s Hramada party. The politician called on Belarusians to ‘gather together, talk about the problems’ and show that ‘Belarus is alive’.

“Lukashenka has put freeze our country. It is covered with ice. And under this ice dies each Belarusian, national, historical thing that managed to upspring in the early 90s. Now we have a unique opportunity to break this ice over Belarus to better the lot of all Belarusian,” he wrote.

The pickets are to start at 12.00.

Thousand wait in line to support potential presidential candidates in Minsk

Using the current stage of the election campaign to legally stage pickets without the permission of the authorities has beenMikalai Statkevich’s strategy for a long time.

“Belarusians, come out! Nothing will save you: neither a candidate, nor a hero, nor Russia, nor the West. You’ll have to do everything yourself. Come out, join us. It’s safe for now,” he said.

On May 19, the Belarusian Central Election Commission (CEC) refused to register the initiative groups of 30 associates of Statkevich (‘protest candidates’). According to elections officials, the reasons for rejection are the lack of passport data of the initiative groups’members; the fact that the interviewed members did not know their candidates; a person’s being a member of several initiative groups, etc.

The CEC turned down Statkevich himself, referring to his criminal history on record. His wife Maryna Adamovich also faced non-registration.

Thirty presidential candidates and mass protests: Statkevich announced his plans for election campaign

In mid May, a few dozen persons linked to Mikalai Statkevich filed the documents for registration. According to the opposition leader, they were ready to conduct the election campaign in dozens of Belarusian cities and towns. To provide Belarusians with the opportunity to legally protest against the incumbent leadership, the team is going to use the election campaign for holding street rallies, he said.

“We will put up information pickets in central city zones, and everyone interested will be able to join these pickets at 12.00 on Sundays in order to express everything they think about the situation in the country,” Statkevich stressed.

However, he voiced fears that most of them would be barred from taking part in the election on the basis of flimsy excuses and pretexts.

The CEC have registered 15 of 55 initiative groups. 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 announced in mid July, and the election will be held on August, 9.

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