Presidential elections in 2006

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Presidential elections in 2006

Close to the next presidential elections that were to be held in autumn of 2006, the opposition consolidated again. Democratic forces demonstrated that they were ready to offer the society a real alternative instead of Alexander Lukashenko. But the authorities prevented it by announcing that the elections would be held in spring, not in autumn, as had been planned. The opposition appeared to be in serious time trouble.

Alaksandr Milinkevic, who represented a wide range of non-governmental organizations, was announced the sole candidate for the democratic forces. But during those elections he was not the only one opposing Lukashenko. Despite foregoing agreements, social democrats pegged for their own candidate, Alaksandr Kazulin, a former president of the Belarusian State University. Although both candidates avoided criticizing each other in public, this segregation weakened the opposition’s collective potential.

Official data say that in the first stage of the elections, Lukashenka won 82% of the votes. The opposition accused the authorities of falsifications again, and the international community refused to accept the results of the elections, too. Visa sanctions were slapped on Lukashenka and the members of his government in the USA.

The day before the elections the authorities launched a mass media campaign appealing to the people’s fear, trying to prevent protest actions. But after voting stations in Oktyabrskaya square in Minsk city centre were closed, people gathered there protesting against falsifications, they pitched tents, intending to make this protest termless. But there were not enough, and some days later the authorities forced the protesters out. Some attempts to continue protesting led to the arrest and confinement of Alaksandr Kazulin.

Author: Handbook on Belarus for International journalists