Democrats not to withdraw candidates to get “free air time and $800 to print leaflets”


The co-leader of the United Democratic Forces Anatol Lyabedzka says that only journalists are discussing the real possibility of a boycott. The UCP will not refuse the opportunities presented by the election campaign. The head of the European coalition Mikola Statkevich thinks that their candidates will make use of the 800 dollars allocated for joining the European Union. A political scientist Pyotr Martsau calls the boycott a non-political, ostrich policy. The BNF Party may take a decision to boycott the election campaign on Sunday because some of its candidates have not been registered and have not been allowed to become members of election commissions. In connection with this ERB has decided to ask the leaders of main opposition parties about their attitude to the idea of a boycott and asked political scientists to present their forecasts about the further campaign depending on different actions of democratic participants.

The head of the European coalition Mikola Statkevich noted that all their candidates should continue agitation because they should not refuse the benefits guaranteed to deputy contenders by the law.
Statkevich: It is not acceptable to refuse such a present when you are given free air time on TV and radio and 800 dollars to print leaflets and organize agitation. It is our top priority! We will tell what benefits every social group will get if Belarus becomes a member of the European Union.

Statkevcih noted that the European coalition may consider the necessity of withdrawal of its candidates only when all the opportunities of the election campaign are used – they do not want to arouse unpleasant emotions in them:

Statkevich: We do not want to make people go through all the shame of seeing those fake fractional percents.

The co-leader of the United Democratic Forces Anatol Lyabedzka is of the same opinion. He noted in his interview with ERB that only journalists were speaking about the boycott and added that the UDF would discuss their further participation in the election campaign rather than in the boycott on August 31.

Lyabedzka: They give us 5 minuts of air time on TV and radio, we will be allowed to publish our election programmes in state mass media. Why shouldn’t we use the opportunity? The authorities have always been using us in an impertinent and brutal way. Why can’t we use Lukashenka’s method to bring our information to people?

A political scientist Pyotr Martsau reminds that the Belarusian opposition structures have never been able to use a boycott effectively. Moreover, if the decision to join the boycott is unilateral (only BNF candidates or only UCP candidates are withdrawn) it will do harm to the parties themselves. Martsau says that it will be “recognition of the political structures’ feebleness” in conditions that differ from the previous elections:

Martsau: The Belarusian authorities are making certain steps to make the elections more democratic under the influence of the West. In fact, local authorities take most decisions about the elections, but the administrative pressure is not that high as it used to be. That is why I would continue trying if I were an opposition deputy contender. I would try just to get some experience in it.

Pyotr Martsau thinks that from 2 to 6 opposition candidates have a chance of getting to the House of Representatives in the current conditions and they will not be “appointed”:

Martsau: The elections’ secret is the fact that they should advertise themselves in their constituencies and to start struggling. There are candidates of the authorities and businessmen. There is an opportunity to compete with them.

According to the political scientist, the local authorities will not be ordered which candidates to appoint this time. 

Photo by: Charter-97