Monday, February 27, 2006

Belarussian Opposition Gets A Rare Chance To Be Heard

Alyaksandr Milinkevich, the united opposition candidate in the upcoming March 19 elections for the presidency of Belarus (elections which are undoubtedly well rigged by the corrupt Lukashenka regime) pledged in a televised address to voters a few days ago to radically change the style of governance and free his country from the grip of fear.

The address was one of the very few times Belarussians had to hear from anyone besides the Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenka (photo left) because of the heavy-handed state control of the press and media. "Authorities in a future Belarus will be elected, not appointed," Milinkevich said. "The person will be given priority over the state. The government will not rule the person, but the person will determine the country's policies.... Freedom will give people an opportunity to lead a decent life."

Milinkevich said the opposition is against staging a "colored revolution" in Belarus like those that followed elections in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. But he added that if the authorities manipulate the votes, people will have the right to take to the streets to defend their votes. "If people take to the streets, we, on our part, will do everything so that this will be a peaceful demonstration as required by the constitution. And we hope very much that the authorities will act in the same manner and not use force," Milinkevich said.

If the first part of Milinkevich's hope; namely, that the frightened and oppressed people of Belarus will risk severe penalties to protest a rigged election, is wishful thinking, then the second part; namely, that Lukashenka would not retaliate with brutal force, is beyond the wildest imagination.

Meanwhile, one of the other opposition candidates, Alyaksandr Kazulin, was allowed a prerecorded TV address immediately after that of Milinkevich. Kazulin argued that incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has no right to be on the ballot for the March 19 presidential election because the Belarus constitution clearly disallowed anyone serving more than two terms in the office. He stressed that Lukashenka violated the constitution by calling
a referendum in 2004 to lift the limit -- another vote where the outcome was decided by Lukashenka long before the votes were counted (if they ever were counted).

Kazulin also pointed out to voters that Belarusian Television would not allow him to show his wife, Iryna, together with him in the studio. (Recent allegations by Belarusian Television, ever the instrument of Lukashenka, claimed that Kazulin is divorced and is lying when he tells the public that he is married.) Kazulin went on to contend that the nation has never seen the first lady, Halina Lukashenka, together with her husband over the entire course of his 12 years in office. Kazulin repeated the claims that many Belarussians in the know already realize that the womanizing Lukashenka lives with another woman -- whose mother is former Health Minister Lyudmila Pastayalka -- and has a son by her.