Elections in Belarus 2015

Former presidential candidates’ stories: ‘Like many Belarusians, I am trying to survive’


Belsat TV wonders how life is treating Lukashenka’s former rivals.

Former candidates-1994

Vyachaslau Kebich was the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus. Now he is 79, he receives 75% of the monthly salary of Prime Minister. He is still the leader of the Belarusian trade and fiscal union that was founded by him in 1994. The organisation is looking for people who are ready to invest into Belarus.

Vasil Novikau, a former Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party of Communists of Belarus, is 69 years old. Mr Novikau receives a pension of a civil servant. Since 2009 he has been Chairman of Social and Humanitarian Disciplines at the Belarusian State University of Physical Culture.

He finished last in the 1994 presidential elections, but a year later the Communists received a majority of the party seats in the Supreme Council of the 13th convocation, where Mr Novikau became First Vice-Speaker. He opposed the 1996 referendum, the main result of which was the expansion of the presidential powers and joined the opposition.

In 1998, he ceased his opposition activities and immediately received a government post – Adviser of the Embassy of Belarus in Moldova. He then defeated his post-doctoral degree and became Director of the Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (2004-2008).

This year Zyanon Pazniak, Chairman of the Conservative Christian Party of the Belarusian Popular Front, has turned 71. He lives between Warsaw and New York and, when it is possible, is engaged in political activites. He writes books. In 1996, he led the first mass protests against the methods of Lukashenka’s rule, which later became known as Spring 1996. After a wave of political repression, Zyanon Pazniak emigrated to the West.

80-year old Stanislau Shushkevich, ex-Chairman of the Supreme Council, heads the Party of the Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada. He lectures on political science at the universities around the world, speaking, among other things, about the political situation in Belarus.

With decree No 16 “On regulation of pensions for special services to the people of Belarus” Alyaksandr Lukashenka froze pension payment to Shushkevich. And now his pension amounts to … $ 1.

In 1994 Shushkevich headed the Center for Political and Economic Studies banned by the authorities of the European Humanities University, which was forced to ‘emigrate’ to Vilnius.

Former candidates-2001

Uladzimir Hancharyk, a former leader of the Belarusian Trade Union Federation, has marked his 75th birthday this year. He is retired, but keeps contacts with trade unions and political parties which ask him for advice.

According to him, the 2015 presidential campaign is ‘the dullest’ of all. He says that it is a shame that heads of two parties (Anatol Lyabedzka from the United Civic Party of Belarus and Syarhei Kalyakin from the Belarusian Leftist party) failed to collect enough signatures to nominate them as presidential cadidates.

Syamion Domash, ex-chairman of the Hrodna Oblast Executive Committee, is 65 years old. In the elections of 2001, as part of a compromise between the opposing forces, he withdrew his candidature in favor of Mr Hancharyk and headed his campaign headquarters. After the elections, he suffered a heart attack and had a surgery. He worked in commercial entreprises, then for a long time he was out of work until he became Director of the Hrodna Leather Association (2006-14).

Now he is a pensioner. He has not told journalists about his private life for a long time.

Former presidential candidates-2006

Alyaksandr Kazulin, the former rector of the Belarusian State University Alyaksandr, is also facing a milestone anniversary: soon he will turn 60. Asked where he works, he says: “Like all Belarusians, I am trying to survive. ” We have not managed to learn what the ex-presidential candidate is actually doing. “I do not really want to talk about it, I have had a lot to bear. It was impossible to do anything, to find a job – not only for me, but also for members of my family. But now, children have jobs, I can do something. But it’s not about using my professional background to benefit my homeland and people.” “Does it mean that you are unemployed?” belsat.eu asked Kazulin. “Well … But I can do something abroad!”

68-year-old Alyaksandr Milinkevich, the leader of the Movement For Freedom, is still engaged in political activities. He lives between the capital and the village of Bershty (Shchuchyn region) where he was born and where he founded a museum of regional studies.