Presidential Elections in Belarus

Yesterday it became known that President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree for an extraordinary session of parliament on September 7th. Experts in Minsk do not exclude that the date of presidential elections will be assigned in this session, which can pass ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, the main discussions in the Belarusian political arena are about who Moscow would support during the upcoming election campaign. On the other hand, according to deputies, the extraordinary session should be devoted to consideration of the laws of the country's budget, the budget of State Social Protection Fund, on making amendments and additions to tax and budget codes.

The official Belarusian news agency 'Belta' reported yesterday that Mr. Lukashenko signed a decree on July 19 to convene an extraordinary session for the House of Representatives on September 7. At the same time in the Belarusian media citing from anonymous sources in the parliament appeared the information that in the session will be decided the date for presidential elections. Vasiliy Baykov, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on State Building, Local Government and Regulation did not rule out such a possibility in an interview with reporters. However, he underlined that the President will personally determine the agenda. Especially in the existing session agenda the item is "other matters".

In accordance with the Belarusian Constitution and Electoral Code of Belarus, presidential elections should take place on 6 February 2011. And Parliament should set a date for vote no later than five months before the election. Valery Karbalevich, expert from the analytical center "Strategy", reported yesterday in an interview with Kommersant that the Belarusian authorities have actually matured the decision to hold early presidential elections. Mr Karbalevich directly connected it with the Russian factor. He recalled that in December in Minsk there would be fierce negotiations with Russia on gas and oil prices for Belarus. "It will certainly be accompanied by the confrontation, including media," - said the expert. He added that Lukashenko wants to be elected for the next five years until a new cycle of worsening relations with Russia, which among other things, is fraught with serious deterioration in the economic situation in Belarus.

During the 2001 presidential elections, Moscow strongly supported Alexander Lukashenko. In the 2006 elections, despite the 2004 gas war, the Russian side also indicated support for the candidacy of the current president of Belarus. However, now, it is believed in Minsk that Kremlin is looking for an alternative to Mr. Lukashenko. In the Belarusian political spheres three men are referred for claiming to Russian support. They are leaders of the civil campaign "European Belarus" and "Speak the truth!", Andrei Sannikov and Vladimir Nyaklyaev, as well as the Deputy Chairman of the United Civil Party Yaroslav Romanchuk. Mr Sannikov said yesterday that he hopes for Moscow's support, especially when investigating kidnapped opponents of Lukashenko in the 1990s - Viktor Gonchar, Yury Zakharenko and Dmitry Zavadsky and Andrew Krassowski. On the other hand, Yaroslav Romanchuk believes that Russian aid could be expressed in the provision of media and technical support during the election campaign. According to Vladimir Nyaklyaev, the best policy of the Kremlin in relation with Belarus is 'neutrality'. He says that without Russian support Alexander Lukashenko has weakened and deprived of resources that would help him to win the elections: "This will give a chance to another politician to oppose Lukashenka who will stop speculating on the brotherhood of our people and begin the real politics of partnership."

Saturday, 24 July 2010

by Kerim HAS


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