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Monday, October 03, 2005

A BEING HAD Times Special edition:

Alyaksandr Milinkevich has been voted the single candidate of political opposition by the Congress of Democratic Forces of Belarus

Quote: “The opinion of a foreign diplomat is probably not so important, as the opinion of the Belarusian people. It is the choice of the Belarusians. I think that the election of a single candidate is a transparent democratic process. I think that teaming up of the political parties and organisations alone is a great success. Now the next step should be made – to unite with the nation, to what extent it is possible in the hard Belarusian conditions”.

George Kroll, The US Ambassador to Belarus who was present at the Congress of Democratic Forces as an observer

Alexander Milinkevich became the oposition leader after the conclusion of the second ballot of the Congress of Democratic Forces of Belarus today. Milinkevich won 399 votes, 8 more than his main challenger, Anatol Lyabedzka who collected 391 votes. The participants of the Congress represented the majority of oppositional parties and public associations of Belarus. They have signed an agreement that all forces represented at the Congress will support the candidate which is elected today

A brief Biography of Alexander Milinkevich

Ales Milinkevich was born on July 25, 1947 in Hrodna. Candidate of Science (Physics and Mathematics). He worked in the universities of France and the USA. In 1980-1984 he was the head of the specialized department of Setif University (Algeria), worked an assistant professor of Hrodna State University (1978-1980, 1984-1990). In 1990-1994 he was a deputy head of Hrodna city executive committee, also was the head of the Belarusian Association of Resource Centres. A regional ethnographer. Was a host of TV historical programme at Hrodna TV. He has discovered the burial place of the last king of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Stanislau II August Paniatouski. He has restored the most ancient tower clock in Europe. Has two sons.

Non party leaders also agreed with party unification

The Belarusian democratic non-party leaders voiced their support to a single candidate which was elected by the Congress of Democratic Forces today. They welcomed the process of the Belarusian opposition’s joining together. It was stated at the today’s press conference in Minsk by the chairman of the Council of the Belarusian intelligentsia Uladzimir Kolas, former speaker of the “council of republic” of the “chamber of representatives” Alyaksandr Vajtovich, former head of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus Uladzimir Hancharyk, former deputy and leader of the parliamentary group “Respublika” Uladzimir Parfyanovich, ex-Minister of Agriculture of Belarus Vasil Lyavonau. In recent times all these personalities in a varying degree have been expressing their intentions to run in the presidential elections in Belarus.

Alyaksandr Vajtovich said in particular that the Congress is a significant stage in uniting the opposition, and underlined importance to go on with this process of creation a union.

Uladzimir Kolas stated that the Belarusian intelligentsia has always been calling upon creation a union: “We welcome the Congress. We all should get ready to a serious confrontation”.

Uladzimir Parfyanovich also emphasized that a single candidate of opposition must be prepared for a very serious pressing by the regime.

Vasil Lyavonau said that after the Congress the process of consultations between party and non-party leaders, and joint elaboration of strategy and tactics are to be continued.

“We recognize that we are dealing with a tricky opponent. But we have an unobjectionable moral and legal right to say, that Lukashenka must leave”.

Not all were in agreement in Minsk However...

Some incidents have taken place at today’s work of the Congress of Democratic Forces of Belarus. Mass media inform that anti-opposition slogans have appeared at the fa?ade of the House of Culture of the Minsk Automobile Factory, where the Congress is held. It is written in big letters: “Yes to the Union, No to the European Union” and “NO to the prostitute opposition!” Symbols of National Bolsheviks are painted nearby. The administration of the House of Culture said that the inscriptions are to be removed at the expense of the Steering Committee of the Congress. It is also informed that some minutes ago a young man tipped a jar of sour cream over Stanislau Shushkevich. The accident has taken place in front of the cameras of the Belarusian state TV, that happened to be nearby “by chance”.

For photos from the elections, please click here


From the BHTimes

So what has happened here?

Over the last few days almost all of the “major” oppositional parties came together in Minsk to decide who should be the man to try and take the place of Alexander Gregorovich Lukashenka at the 2006 Belarusian election. They came together just as they did during the parliamentary elections of 2004, the “referendum” election in which Lukeshenka asked if he should be allowed to rewrite the constitution and allow himself the chance to run for a third (and obviously afterwards, a fourth) term in office. And after two days of speeches, we now have a new face, Mr. Alexander Milinkevich, a teacher and historian.

But what does this mean? Will we see the two candidates meet in face to face debates? No. Will there be great shouting in the bars and arguments in the clubs as to the relative merits of the two candidates? No. And why not? Because above and beyond any questions of legitimacy, or availability of media and/or lack of recourse, there is one single thing that Belarus lacks in its politics: There has been no statement of intended policy on either side.

Well, this is not entirely true; Mr. Lukashenka has never had a problem telling anyone his mind. But the problem lies in that he has never asked anyone to agree with him. He tells. And this single voice is the case absolutely throughout the Belarusian governing process.

But at least as far as this editor has been able to discern, no one from the opposition has said anything to indicate that they had any particular policy to offer than not liking Lukashenka. Oh, they say that they are in favor of accepting trade with Europe and having the borders be more open, but these are simply statements against the Soviet-style separatism and isolationism that Lukashenka prefers. These are not political platforms as much as restatements of perestroika and glasnost. And we know now how that all turned out.

As a case in point, over the last few weeks, Anatoly Lebedko seemed to be the only one making any noise. But if you read his speeches all he ever did was criticize Lukashenka. Not that Lebedko is without charisma, but he never actually has stated what his ideas would have been to better the place. There was no other platform other than opositionism. And so the question must be asked: Will Milinkevich have anything to say other than that he represents his party’s thoughts?

Perhaps the point has been missed but the thought does occur that giving a man a chance to run things for a while means that he is trusted to get a particular job done. But why should one be allowed such power if we are not even allowed to know what he is going to do when he gets it? And in the case of Belarus, where everyone knows that the odds against unseating the president are slim to none, why didn’t they at least make good use of the attention they got during this congress and make their new opinions and ideas about the country known?

Where are the discussions of the issues? There are never any hard opinions about rights or recourse. Nobody speaks to any particular constituency. Nobody speaks about domestic policy, about pensions or banking laws or real estate or lowering or raising taxes or why the taxes were issued or how the money should be best utilized. Or of course who has the right to take these taxes. Nobody ever says what they want to see insofar as infrastructure, or debt management or ecological issues. What about the little guy? What about the independent businessman, the entrepreneur, the folks at the markets or the hawkers on the street? Who is speaking about jobs for the students just coming from the schools? Who is addressing property issues? Who is addressing the growing homeless class, alcoholism, the absence of culture or corruption? Who is addressing problems in the medical system or the social payment system or the civic codes or even, and this is the most obvious, the actual power structure and decision making process itself? This does not just speak of reform; this speaks of the job of governing. Nobody is offering any opinion about how Belarus could in fact be better governed.

Even the grouping together of all of the parties so as to try and create an entity that might have a chance to make a dent in the "iron curtain" around the president blurs the notion of necessary individuality. And this does not speak of empty selfish capitalism, which is an anathema to “right thinking” Belarusians, but rather the actual and genuine debate over how to deal with the land, the people and the recourses which exist in the country.

And so in the opinion of The BEING HAD Times, what has occurred in Minsk will inevitably turn out to be no more than a show and nothing more because regardless of all of the usage and over-usage of the word "democracy" there is still no real evidence of popular discussion. And in fact, there is a real chance that this particular show has probably done nothing more than to solidify the president’s hold on his office. Nothing has been said here other than a face has been chosen. This new face may be respected by outsiders, the new face may represent something new, but in the end, this new face has nothing particular to say about how to make life better for the people of Belarus other than to say it is not happy.

Belarus, you do have the right to be a country. Please make use of it

Note: Almost all of today's news was from the UCPB and Charter '97.