A joining of forces of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Valery Tsepkalo and Viktor Babariko to ensure free and fair elections in Belarus caused strong reaction not solely in Belarus, but also abroad. For instance, the Guardian published an article explaining the events unfolding in the country.
“Three women are spearheading a maverick opposition campaign for next month’s presidential election in Belarus, transforming the country’s politics as they attempt to unseat Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled for 25 years. At their head is Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a reluctant candidate who has grown increasingly confident in her challenge to Lukashenko,” the article begins.
Presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Veronika Tsepkalo and Maria Kolesnikova (the heads of the presidential campaigns for Viktor Babariko and Valery Tsepkalo, opposition politicians barred from the elections), allied after only Tikhanovskaya was allowed to run for the presidency.
“Last week Tikhanovskaya delivered campaign speeches on national television and to crowds in their thousands in the capital, Minsk, and in smaller cities and towns. Initially a stand-in for her husband, a popular blogger barred from running and jailed by the authorities, she has come into her own as a political candidate and is comfortable forming a direct connection with voters, allies say.”
The author of the text also gives a brief overview of Tikhanovskaya’s sudden political career and the widespread support during crowded campaign rallies around the country. Recall that Svetlana embraced her role as a candidate after her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky was detained after a rally in May.
“I love my husband so I am continuing his cause,” she told a crowd of several thousand voters in a stump speech in Barysaw on Thursday. “I love my children and want them to grow up in a country where people don’t have their mouths shut. I love Belarusians, so I want to give them the possibility to choose.”
Shortly after Tikhanovskaya had declared her intentions to run for the president instead of her spouse, she had received threats against her family and had to take her children out of the country. “Yes, I was scared at first,” she said in a televised speech. “I know what depths this government can go to in order to preserve its place. But I am no longer scared.”
Veronika Tsepkalo joined Tikhanovskaya and Kolesnikova after her husband and another failed presidential candiate Valery Tsepkalo fled the country with their children last week, since he had been warned about an alleged order for his arrest and their kids to be removed from the family.
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In a bombshell announcement, the three women said they would unite their campaigns and specified that they took the decision in just a quarter of an hour. “We needed 15 minutes talking just the three of us, Svetlana, Veronika, and myself, in order to make a decision … And that was our victory,” said Maria Kolesnikova.
“We believe that we are not of a second sort, that we stand equal to men and believe that we can win,” said Tsepkalo after the announcement. Earlier President Lukashenko said that politics should remain a sphere for men, since Belarus’ constitution is not made for a woman and society won’t vote for a female president.
The full text of the original article can be found here.