'Let them sign, it does not mean we will take their signatures anywhere'

In the lunch hour I walked around the cult places for signature collectors in Minsk:  GUM and Tsentralny supermarket. I even got excited -- no pickets in support of the presidential contender Alyaksandr Lukashenka! What is the reason for that? They collected more than 900,000 signatures for his nomination and calmed down?

'What's the reason for having these pickets?' asked me Syarhei Piharau, who is the head of the Lukashenka's election headquarters. We spent in the pickets almost 20 days, and that? And here's the result! So, most likely, these pickets tomorrow will be gone. Well, they may only stay in the places where the schools or fairs are..."

However, the source calms me, you will be able to sign for Alyaksandr Lukashenka until the very last day - around the country will operate 164 "public reception spot," where it can be done. He promised me to tell the addresses of those spots later. But given the fact that the main collectors of signatures for the current head of the country is Belaya Rus, their placement will be easy to guess. To the question of whether they will collect signatures at homes, he said: 'We once went around the households and will not go there again for the people not to misunderstand us." I do not know, but I personally have never seen signature collectors from this applicant come to my home. The same is true about the rest of them though...'

During my walk around the GUM I saw pickets of Syarhei Haidukevich, Tatsiana Karatkevich  and Viktar Tsyareshchanka. Supporters of the letter were collecting signatures at the Tsentralny as well. I could not have missed one thing: while at both pickets for Viktar Tsyareshchanka signature collectors are dressed in T-shirts featuring national design, their rivals -- had T-shirts with the photo of their applicants.

I stood there and watched. People came up to all the pickets, but i noticed that while earlier the signature collectors fought for every person who passed by, now they were not so eager to copy the passport data anymore. Girl working at the  Haidukevich picket simply treated a passer-by with a piece of chocolate and did not even insist that the 'paid' with a signature...

"We are no longer collecting signatures, said Aleh Haydukevich cheerfully. We have not been collecting them since Monday."

You can, of course, sign if you want, but it will not even get into the election commission. Apparently, the LDP decided to submit to the election commissions 120 thousand signatures. More signatures has been collected, they even managed to submit 80 thousands to the election commissions across the country, and there is simply no need in the new ones. Maybe they will leave them in the party archives...

The staff at the headquarters of Viktar Tsyareshchanka will begin to submit signatures on August 20-21. They are not going to remove pickets from the streets. But your signatures are no longer needed by this applicant either.

"If they want to sign, let them, but that does not mean that we will take the signatures anywhere, told me an employee at the headquarters of this applicant. We have the required number of signatures - more than 145 thousands, now we are checking them and getting ready to sumbit to the local commission."

Tatsyana Karatkevich has also collected 100,000 signatures. But she said her staff will continue to collect signatures until the last day - 21 August. Another thing is that not all the collected signatures will be taken into account by the commission, explains Tatsiana Karatkevich.

Tatsiana Karatkevich: "For example, a person came to Minsk from Babruisk. And when they sign on August 21 for Tatsiana Karatkevich, it will be hard for us to pass this signature to Babruisk. Therefore, in the last days we will make the collecting spot coincide with the residence permit of the person who signs up. This way it will simply be easier to submit signatures before evening."

What tactics does the last 100k wannabe Mikalai Ulakhovich have? According to the head of the Cossack Ataman nominating group Mikhail Obrazau, until the last day people will go from door to door and dorms - they had very few pickets anyway.

Mikhail Obrazau: "Based on our plan, we are going to collect 110 thousands. Well, to have a reserve. Who knows what can happen -- some miscalculations or something..."

So far, there have been collected 70K signatures for the leader of the Left party Fair World Syarhei Kalyakin, said the head of his nominating group Valer Ukhnaliou. So they will collect until the last moment -- maybe they will manage to collect the required amount.

Leader of the United Civil Party Anatol Lyabedzka would not say how many signatures have been collected in his favor. Apparebtly, he will disclose the figure on the evening of August 21, when the collected signatures will be brought to the local election commissions. Or they won't be taken there. But they will also collect up to the last moment. At least in order to take advantage of the opportunity to meet and talk to people.

It is unknown how things are with the signature collection of Zhanna Ramanouskaya. She did not answer the phone. This candidate is like a character from a joke: you cannot see her, but she is, in fact, there."

Photo: Zmitser Lukashuk