Presidential elections in 2010

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Presidential elections in 2010

The third cadence of Alexander Lukashenko started with repressions, but then the authorities showed some interest in communicating with the West and agreed with moderate liberalization that resulted in indemnity of all political prisoners including Kazulin. The next presidential elections in December, 2010 were to test this liberalization trend.

In the run-up to the elections, two opposition campaigns were held: “For Freedom Movement” by Alaksandr Milinkevic and “Tell the Truth!” by Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu, a well-known poet.

The electoral campaign of 2010 was held under the sign of liberalization. The opposition refused to pick a single candidate, and as a result nine opponents faced Alexander Lukashenko; all of them were officially registered and given an opportunity to participate in the electoral campaign legally.

But the opposition positioned itself against the liberalization in a radical way; the opponents used their election platforms not to present their alternative political programs, but to persuade people to participate in protests and demonstrations after the elections. The opposition decided that a change of power would only be possible as a result of mass demonstrations in the streets.

The election campaign and liberalization resulted in a violent clampdown on the day the elections ended. Called by the opposition, about 15,000 people came to Oktyabrskaya square to protest. This protest ended with the House of the Government being attacked (the opposition accused special forces of provoking this attack) and resulted in applying force methods to squad the riot. Around 700 people were arrested, including presidential candidates. Three of them, Mikola StatkevichDzmitry Us and Andrei Sannikov, were sentenced by the court to the long-term confinement.

In September, 2011 participants of those events, and Dzmitry Us among them, were pardoned by the president under pressure of the European Union. In April, 2012 Andrei Sannikau was freed by the President. Mikalai Statkevich remains in prison along with other political prisoners.

Author: Handbook on Belarus for International journalists