On June 7, as was the case a week and two weeks ago, the initiative groups of potential presidential candidates were collecting signatures for their nomination. Pre-election pickets took place in about 30 Belarusian cities and towns.
At least 15 persons were detained during Sunday’s pickets in Minsk, human rights centre Viasna reports. Three activists were taken in custody in Homiel.
Former political prisoner Pavel Sevyarynets who staged a ‘freedom and solidarity’ picket in Minsk, is among the detainees. The politician is not running for presidency; quite the opposite, he calls for boycotting the upcoming election.
The pickets in support of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Syarhei Cherachan, Andrey Dzmitryeu, Viktar Babaryka, and Valery Tsapkała were spotted near Kamarouski market in Minsk. As of Sunday afternoon, at least 1,300 people gathered there, Viasna said with reference to independent observers (see our photo report below). In the wake of the event, several members of Volha Kavalkova’s and Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s teams were reported to have been detained by the police.
This year’s election campaign is gaining momentum: lots of Belarusians are spending hours in queques to sign for the nomination of a person or persons who have revealed their presidential ambitions. Thousands of people throughout the country line up to put their signatures for ‘any on the list but for the incumbent president’. Especially large queues formed after popular vlogger Syarhei Tsikhanouski, a trustee and husband of presidential hopeful Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, had been detained in Hrodna on May, 29.
To officially become a presidential candidate, a seeker 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.
In turn, Alyaksandr Lukashenka is apparently sensitive about domestic unrest over his rule. He has repeatedly blasted his would-be rivals, even descending to insults and threats.
In his opinion, certain wannabe presidential candidates are willing to turn the country upside down with the help of ‘someone’s money’. However, the Belarusian leader failed to specify which country was allegedly sponsoring his competitors.
Last week, Lukashenka hinted that he might order to shoot at those who are hardly on the same page with him. He also ordered Minsk Mayor Anatol Sivak and law enforcement agencies to ‘ensure total order in the hero city of Minsk’.