Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the square near the Kamarouski market in the capital was unusually crowded. A number of initiative groups started collecting signatures for presidential election candidates. To support potential candidates, people waited for their turn in long lines.
Why did Minsk citizens come to the pickets?
“I will support the candidates, who go against the system, who are not part of the systemic opposition”.
“To show some civic stance among other things. To show that there is support for alternative candidates, not only the one we have had for the last 26 years”.
“The judicial, executive and supreme branches of power — all of them must be changed. It is necessary to return the previous version of the Constitution, so that there is no such thing as ‘I rule as much as I want’.
Already near the market square Syarhei Tsikhanouski — the author of the popular blog “Country for Life” was approached by supporters. He came to meet with potential voters instead of his wife Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a registered nominee, and to express solidarity with fined and sentenced activists.
“I am not urging people to take part in the election. I call on people to put their signatures for fair elections without Lukashenka. That is, at some point in Belarus, maybe next year, there will be fair elections. We need to understand how many people there are, how many people support us, how many are ready to act,” said Tsikhanouski.
Using the current stage of the election campaign to legally hold pickets without the permission of the authorities has been Mikalai Statkevich’s strategy for a long time.
“Belarusians, come out! Nothing will save you: neither a candidate, nor a hero, nor Russia, nor the West. You’ll have to do everything yourself. Come out, join us. It’s safe for now,” says Mikalai Statkevich, initiator of the “Candidate of Protest” campaign.
Uladzimir Niapomniashchykh is the only one registered among Statkevich’s 30 so-called “protest candidates”. He urges his subscribers to boycott the election.
“If Lukashenka does not withdraw his candidacy and Yarmoshyna remains in this position, I urge people not to go to the election. The polling stations must stay empty — this is the only way we can remove these authorities,” said Uladzimir Niapomniashchykh.
Representatives of other potential candidates — Viktar Babaryka and Valer Tsapkala — worked near the market. Co-chairman of Belarusian Christian Democracy Volha Kavalkava organized her own picket. Her former rival in the unfinished nomination of a single candidate of the opposition – Yury Hubarevich – held a picket in Brest, where the protest against the battery plant has not subsided. Even in the rain, about a hundred people gathered in the main square of the city.
“We do not aim for signature collection, as during the coronavirus it is realistic, but it is also criminal — to carry the disease around apartments. However, holding information pickets, where we can talk to people, show certain information materials, collect signatures for the postponement of elections is one of our main objectives,” said Yury Hubarevich.
Potential presidential candidate – businessman Syarhei Cherachan – also started collecting signatures in Hrodna the day before. In total, the nominee said he had collected about three thousand signatures so far.
“We now want to show people that there are adequate people, an adequate team. We want to lead our country to the new Belarus, and that is what we are doing now. We are engaged in team building. The more we are, the more chances there will be changes in Belarus,” explained Cherachan.
Pickets along with the collection of signatures will last until June 19th.