Voters in Belarus can vote for Sunday’s presidential elections from Tuesday. Then authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko (65) hopes to be re-elected.
The opposition fears fraud and calls on voters to wait a little longer to vote.
Early voting is for people who don’t have time this weekend, according to state media. Opposition candidate Svetlana Tichanovskaja does not trust the authorities and has asked supporters to vote only on the last day. Then there would be less time for tampering with ballot papers.
37-year-old Tichanovskaya has also called on followers to wear a white bracelet. In her opinion, independent observers can better estimate how much support there is for her candidacy.
Observers also take into account cheating in the elections in the former Soviet state, which is sometimes referred to as ‘the last dictatorship in Europe’. Lukashenko has ruled the country since 1994, and its political rivals have been opposed in many ways.
For example, essential opposition figures have been arrested or fled in the run-up to the elections. This allowed the politically inexperienced Tichanovskaya to become the main rival of the President. The housewife put herself forward after her husband’s arrest.
Opposition to Lukashenko has been given new impetus this year by discontent with the economy and its approach to the coronavirus outbreak. Many thousands of people came to election meetings with Tichanovskaya.
The politician called on her supporters at a meeting at the end of July to overcome their fears. “Do you think I’m not afraid? I’m afraid every day,” she acknowledged. “But I gather my courage and overcome my fear.”