Presidential election in Belarus: candidate out of nowhere

Presidential election in Belarus: candidate out of nowhere

Svetlana Tichanowskaja wants to run in the presidential election. Ruler Lukashenko previously stopped her husband’s candidacy.

Those who stand up to the Belarusian autocratic long-term ruler Alexander Lukashenko and who is also a woman live a particularly dangerous life. Svetlana Tichanowskaja is now feeling this too. The 37-year-old will face Lukashenko in the presidential election on August 9.

As a precaution, this week she sent her two children, aged four and ten, with their grandmother to a safe EU country. Previously, she had been warned anonymously several times about what could happen to her family if she did not withdraw her candidacy.

Such undisguised threats must be taken seriously in Belarus. The fact that opposition figures go to jail in rows is already the order of the day under Lukashenko. In the past, regime critics who made themselves too loudly were often taken away from their offspring as an additional disciplinary measure and put in a state orphanage.

Until recently, Svetlana Tichanowskaja was unsuspicious of any political ambitions. Born in 1982 in the village of Mikaschevischy in the Brest area, she studied pedagogy with a focus on English and German. She then worked as a translator for various organizations, including Chernobyl Life Line based in Ireland.

On May 15 of this year, Tichanowskaja was catapulted onto the political stage from nowhere due to special circumstances: On this day, the Central Election Commission stopped her husband Sergei’s ambitions. The regime-critical blogger had actually wanted to challenge Lukashenko in the presidential election. However, the commission refused to register its supporters. Such teams must collect at least 100,000 signatures for a candidate to be admitted to the poll.

Tichanowskaja fled to the front and quickly submitted documents for his own team. Her husband took over the management. However, he is now in custody – just like two other opposition candidates. Obviously there is growing support for Tichanowskaja. In Minsk and other cities, long lines were formed at the election workers’ tables to sign for them. Last week she was officially registered as a candidate.

In an interview with the Belarusian First Radio Station a few days ago, Tichanowskaja found unflattering words for Lukashenko. She asked if he seriously believed he could force people to love him if he beat them up, punished them and put them in jail. Her programmatic demands include the release of political prisoners and the holding of new elections under free and fair conditions. It is inconceivable that Lukashenko will allow that to happen.

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