Can opposition compete with Lukashenka's nominating group of 10,500 people?

By the end of the week, people with presidential ambitions are to make the first formal step in the electoral marathon -  submit lists of their nominating groups to the CEC for registration. At what stage are they?

As was expected, the first to announce his readiness to bring the already compiled lists to the CEC was the LDP leader Syarhei Haydukevich. He even said he would do it on July 15 at 12:00.

"We have plus-minus 2,500 people on our lists today, and it is only the members of the party, said the deputy leader of the party Aleh Haydukevich. In 2010, we put there 10 thousand people and registered them without problems. That's why we collected the necessary 100,000 signatures in 10 days, but now we have taken a decision based on the number of the members in the nominating group."

Syarhei Haydukevich always does everything first: both states his intention to run and forms and registers the nominating group, he allegedly collects 100 thousand signatures (but does not submit them to the CEC), and, as it was in 2010, he is the first to withdraw from the election. This time, says Mr Haydukevich Jr., his father would go to the end, but we will see.

                                           Syarhei Haydukevich 

Immediately after Mr Haydukevich, the leader of the left party Fair World Syarhei Kalyakin said he was ready to take lists to the CEC. Surprisingly, his visit to Lidziya Yarmoshyna is scheduled an hour earlier than that of Mr Haydukevich - 11:00 July 15. However, the deputy leader of the party Valery Ukhnaliou said to Euroradio, a day before the scheduled date, the lists are not yet adequately finalized.

Valery Ukhnaliou: "Right now we are reviewing the lists, because sometimes we come across "doubles"- people who signed two times. But in the end there will be 1,500 people in the list, maybe a little more."

                                                     Syarhei Kalyakin

The vast majority of members in Syarhei Kalyakin's nominating group are party members. But there are just fans, whose data base was specially created by the activists of Fair World. These are the people who once put a signature for the 'left' candidate in the local councils, in parliament or participated in some rallies. These people, Mr Ukhnaliou admits, received calls and were offered to join the nominating group.

But however Mr Kalyakin and Mr Haydukevich were trying to beat each other at this stage of the election campaign, it was Alyaksandr Lukashenka who quietly and without much PR became the leader.

"At 10.40 on July 14, the head of the nominating group Mikhail Orda submitted an application and a list of the nominating group members for nomination of presidential candidate Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Overall, the group consists of about 10,500 people, representing all regions of the Republic of Belarus, and the Central Commission is now working with these documents," said to Euroradio the CEC secretary Mikalai Lazavik.

                              Alyaksandr Lukashenka

These are the three candidates,of whose nominating groups you will not be able to become a member. But the list of those who announced their intention to compete for the presidency is not over - what are the chances to express civic position?

On July 16-17, the following people will take the lists of their initiative groups to the CEC: UCP leader Anatol Lyabedzka, the candidate of the People's Referendum (it includes the campaign Tell the Truth, movement For Freedom and the Party of the Belarusian Popular Front - Euroradio) Tatstsiana Karatkevich and permanent participant of all of the presidential elections Viktar Tsyareshchanka. Mr Lyabedzka said his group will have 700-800 people, and you can still get there. There are plans to enroll over a thousand people in the nominating group of Ms Karatkevich, said with uncertainty the leader of Tell the Truth Andrey Dzmitryieu. Viktar Tsyareshchanka is still outting together his group, but he said that it will have, just like in 2010, about 1,300 people. One can still sign up for it.

                                                  Anatol Lyabedzka

                                        Andrey Dzmitryieu, Tatstsiana Karatkevich

Incidentally, a month ago, in an interview with Euroradio, Viktar Tsyareshchanka flatly stated that he would not be participating in the upcoming elections. Today he said that he agreed to participate "under the pressure of his nominating group" only two days ago. He does not rule out that he will withdraw from the race.

But that's not the whole list of potential candidates. If you are disappointed in the opposition and the government, here's a new face in politics.  Unemployed Yury Shulgan, director of Tsar-miod Yury Radzkou and Minsk entrepreneur Uladzislau Tsitovich are all drawing lists of  groups to nominate themselves as a presidential candidates.

Uladislau Tsitovich openly stated that there are currently just over 100 people in his nominating group. He said it is not enough to collect the necessary 100 thousand signatures for nomination - there need to be "from 2 to 5 thousand people in the nominating group".

                                        Uladzislau Tsitovich

It took almost half an hour of conversation to get from Yury Radzkou an answer about the number of people in his nominating group. In the end, there was no clear answer. I only learned that at least 100 people are required for registration.

                                              Yury Radzkou

The story of the unemployed Yury Shulhan is quite exciting. For a few months he had been telling everyone how he would run for presidency and what he would do when he become one. All of a sudden, it turned out that he even did not have a passport. He received a new passport on July 13, but it was... without registration.

"He has a place of registration, noted in the police data bases - he is not a lost man. In any case, we will apply - the lists have 124 members of the nominating group," representative of Mr Shulhan Paulyuk Kanavalchyk said to Euroradio.

                                                   Yury Shulhan

You can join the group of any "independent" candidate. Google can help you find time and place, you can look for contacts online, we were told. They say everyone now 'knows this stuff.' It remains to find politically active people among the 'nerds.' Actually, they should find you- there are no leaflets saying "Did you join my nominating group?" on the walls and pillars.

And another thing: Mr Lazavik is confident that it is necessary to have a nominating group of at least one thousand people to feel confident in the presidential election- otherwise you would not be able to collect the  100 thousand signatures.

                                              Mikalai Lazavik

Photo: Zmitser Lukashuk,,, from the archives of Yury Radzkou, Udazislau Tsitovich