Authoritarian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko (65) hopes to be re-elected on Sunday. The opposition fears fraud. Observers are also taking into account elections fraud in the former Soviet state, which is also referred to as ‘the last dictatorship in Europe’. Lukashenko has ruled the country since 1994 and his political rivals have been thwarted in many ways.
Important opposition figures, for example, were arrested or fled in the run-up to the elections. This allowed politically inexperienced Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to become the president’s main rival. The housewife ran after the arrest of her popular blogger husband.
Tichanovskaya teams up with the now arrested Kolesnikova and Moroz. She says she has no real presidential ambitions. Her program has three promises: release all political prisoners, reverse the changes in the constitution that increased Lukashenko’s power, and free and fair elections within six months.
The opposition to Lukashenko has received new impetus this year due to dissatisfaction with the economy and his approach to the coronavirus outbreak. Many thousands of people attended election rallies with Tikhanovskaya.
Lukashenko, meanwhile, tries to placate voters by offering them more prosperity. “Within five years, the average salary in Belarus will double,” he promised.
Lukashenko has accused Moscow and Western countries of interfering with the elections. Last week, his security service detained more than 30 Russians who, according to authorities, were plotting violent protests with members of the opposition.