Minsk mayor announces measures against ‘provocateurs’ at pre-election pickets

Anatol Sivak, Chairman of Minsk City Executive Committee, called the collection of signatures in Minsk ‘provocation’. The opinion was aired on state-run TV channel Belarus-1.

According to him, the city authorities have what it takes to fight it.

When asked if there would be enough resources to quell ‘the negative development in the streets’, Sivak answered affirmatively, but stressed that the authorities had not gone beyond briefing the people on the pre-election process yet.

In his opinion, staging rallies, holding discussions, expressing opinions should not happen when Belarusians sign for this or that candidate.

“But there are people who <…> intentionally use the process of collecting signatures for some campaigning,” he stressed.

Having voiced fears that such events might spiral into quarrels and even conflicts, Mr Sivak announced certain decisions to prevent ‘provocateurs’ from appearing in the places designated for collecting signatures. However, he failed to go into detail.

As reported earlier, when talking to KGB Chairman Valery Vakulchyk, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka warned all the ‘maidan-stricken’ that there will be no maidans in Belarus. He also urged law enforcers to prevent ‘various criminal gangs from wandering around the country with rolled up sleeves’.

No maidans possible in Belarus, Lukashenka warns

This year’s presidential campaign is indicative of the people’s fatigue with the 26-year rule of Lukashenka. On Sunday, thousands of people throughout the country lined up to put their signatures for any of his rivals. Especially large queues formed after blogger Syarhei Tsikhanouski, a trustee and husband of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, had been detained in Hrodna on May, 29.

The Belarusian Central Election Commission (CEC) have registered 15 of 55 initiative groups. It means that over a dozen wannabe got the green light for collecting signatures to be nominated for the 2020 presidential run. To officially become a presidential candidate, each of them will have to collect 100,000 signatures until June, 19. The names of the candidates will be announced in mid July, and the election will be held on August, 9.

On May 31, over 30 persons, including members of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s initiative group and civil activists, were detained or prevented from taking part in pre-election pickets, the human rights centre Viasna reports. Notably, a wannabe presidential candidate does not have to get permission from the authorities for holding such a picket.

‘We have enough of him’. Queues in Minsk to support Lukashenka’s rivals (photos)