Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 91

The alternative presidential balloting staged by the Belarusan opposition, set for May 6-16, is said to be unfolding in a promising manner, despite some spokes thrown in its wheels by none other than candidate Zyanon Paznyak. The Popular Front leader–whose party is one of several making up the opposition–competes with former Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir in the race. The winner will probably become the official standard bearer of the allied opposition against presidential incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Paznyak has lived abroad as a political emigre since 1996; Chyhir was jailed by the authorities in Minsk last month and remains in prison.

In a special statement to the people of Belarus, Paznyak has urged voters to refrain from taking part in the opposition’s election in advance of May 16. Paznyak accuses the opposition’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) of having violated the electoral law by scheduling the ballot collection over a ten-day period, rather than confining it to the declared election date of May 16. Describing that procedure as an “adventure” launched by CEC Chairman Viktar Hanchar, Paznyak insists that voting take place on May 16 only. In another message, Paznyak has accused Chyhir of pro-Russian leanings. According to Paznyak, Moscow is interested in setting up a pro-Russian opposition to Lukashenka and play off one against the other.

Meanwhile, the Rada of the Belarusan National Republic, based in North America as the legal successor of the independent state proclaimed in 1918, is urging the people of Belarus–in the highest possible numbers–to turn out and vote in the alternative election (Belapan, May 7-8; see the Monitor, March 30-31, May 10).