El País (Spain): Lukashenko believes that a woman can’t be President. Today his main rivals — three women

Ricochet. By a lucky chance, that happened due to the fact that the authorities always seek to stifle the voices of critics, Svetlana Tikhanovski became a candidate for President of Belarus from the opposition. 38-year-old English teacher has decided to nominate his candidacy in the presidential elections on 9 August, after they arrested her husband, a popular blogger and not given him the opportunity to take part in the elections. Now Tikhanovski spearheading a campaign which was joined by two women who find themselves in similar circumstances. They have set quite an unusual goal. Three women representing the opposition, intend to circumvent the election of 65-year-old Alexander Lukashenko, who headed the former Soviet Republic for more than a quarter century. The Belarusian leader, who for the first time in many years, faced real problems during the election campaign, tried to make fun of the three women. He said that a woman President “will collapse, the poor guy”. Some time later, during a visit to the tractor plant, he added: “our society is not Mature enough to vote for a woman.”

But Tikhanovski, which became a presidential candidate by accident, decided to lead the opposition. Nevertheless she is assured that if he wins the election, it will not lead the country, and in six months will hold “fair elections”. In her speeches and rallies in different cities of Belarus, thousands of people gather. They are held in a festive atmosphere and usually they sing Belarusian version of the Catalan song L Estaca (Post) Lewis Pussy (Lluís Llach), which is an allegory and inspired anti-Soviet movement in Poland during the “Solidarity”. Tikhanovski supports Veronika Tsepkalo, a former employee of Microsoft and head of the company her husband Valery Tsepkalo. He is one of the founders of the Belarusian high-tech Park and the former Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus in the United States. Valery was denied registration as a candidate, and a few days ago he went to Moscow out of fear that he could be arrested. Also supports Tikhanovski Maria Kolesnikova, head of the campaign, the former banker Victor Babariko, who was arrested on suspicion of tax evasion. He was the main rival of Lukashenka.

Together they conduct the campaign, which brings together various constituents, especially urban and rural residents opposed Lukashenko. Every day this Alliance becomes stronger. This contributes to the dissatisfaction of citizens with the economic situation in the country and actions of the President on the fight against the pandemic coronavirus. Since 1994, Lukashenko, a former head of the kolkhoz, addresses members of the opposition and imprisoning those who criticize him the most. Now the Belarusian leader, who insisted that the opposition forces are the interests of foreign States, seeks to win elections, which observers considered neither fair nor free, and hold the presidency for the sixth time.

Although Lukashenko violently suppressed numerous protests that have animated political life of Belarus this summer, he gives concessions Tikhanovski and its supporters. “This “parade of democracy” does not mean that there will be fraud. It is obvious that if necessary the authorities will use any means against their enemies, even direct violence,” said political analyst of the Belarusian center for European studies Pavel Usov, located in Minsk. A few weeks ago Tikhanovski, in the election program which has a clause concerning the release of all political prisoners, sent their children, of four and ten years outside Belarus because they had received anonymous threats. Her husband, Sergei tikhanovski was arrested in may. Another opposition candidate Anna Konopacka stopped the campaign, because, according to her, she also received threats against his children.

“Yes, at first I was scared,” admitted Tikhanovski a few days ago during a speech on television. “I know what the bottom can reach the power, trying to keep his seat. But now I’m not afraid,” — said the presidential candidate. “The current government brazenly withdrew from the election the strongest players, so we decided to unite and show what women’s solidarity,” she added. According to the UN, in Belarus, where 9.4 million people, 34% of the seats in Parliament are occupied by women. This figure is higher than in Germany and the UK. However, according to the latest report of the structure of “UN women” for 2019, Belarus — one of the countries where women are least represented in government.

Lukashenko, who, like other public leaders of the region, created the image of a gracious and Almighty leader, has already proposed to change the Constitution of Belarus and to include a provision stating that only those who served in the army, may nominate his candidacy in the presidential election. In Belarus, all men must serve. In response to this, social networks have spread the photo with three women: Tikhanovski raises fist up, Kolesnikova fold the heart in two hands, and Tsepkalo shows the letter “V”, which means victory or peace. Now that the symbols of their campaign.