Journalists have many questions for Head of OSCE ODIHR Mission, Jacques Faure
It was a true challenge for all those interested to find a seat within the large hall of Molodechno’s Palace of Culture. At the end of his working day, Semen Shapiro — the Chairman of the Minsk Regional Executive Committee and an election agent for Alexander Lukashenko — arrived to meet voters. Everyone expected the conversation to be sincere and open, and no one was disappointed.
“Life is impossible without peace. Development requires calmness, and creation is based on order. These are clear and well-known axioms. Until recently, they were viewed as secure and unbreakable but the sad experience of our neighbours reminds us of the opposite. Does everyone remember how the path of our independent state began,” Mr. Shapiro addressed those present, reminding them of two decades ago, when factories were obliged to halt production and farms were destroyed. Shops couldn’t get hold of stock, and criminal activity flourished.
“In failing to recollect the past, it’s hard to apprehend the present and almost impossible not to make mistakes in the future. At present, among our voters are the generation who learnt about those hard times from soap operas and their parents’ stories,” Mr. Shapiro continued. “It’s important for them to understand: Belarusians have always made their bread by hard yet fair work. Only owing to this does every house have bread.”
In a short period of time, queues gathered by the two microphones. It appeared a great opportunity for Molodechno residents to thank the President (through Mr. Shapiro) — on behalf of themselves and their families.
Sergei Gaidukevich’s election campaign is also in full swing, with several meetings organised daily countrywide. His election agent — the First Deputy Chairman of the Liberal-Democratic Party, Oleg Gaidukevich — is convinced that it’s necessary to use all accessible means to attract voters. Accordingly, the working schedule is tough: in the morning, he meets people outside and, during the day, chats with voters. As Oleg Gaidukevich admits, he prefers to encourage dialogue rather than giving long speeches. “We describe our programme in short, inviting voters to ask questions. Of course, people are worried about the economic state of the country and the escalating problem of migrants in Europe. We begin all meetings with a call to attend polling stations, irrespective of which candidate people support. Indifference is the most awful state, for any society or country. A peculiarity of the present election campaign is citizens’ absolute disaffection with radical rhetoric,” he adds.
Mostly lecturers were waiting for Oleg Gaidukevich and his colleague — another election agent, Yevgeny Kryzhanovsky — at the Minsk State Auto-mechanical College, where most students are under 18. A separate meeting is planned with the Minsk Automobile Works staff. Artiste Kryzhanovsky began with a joke — as is common for his profession. However, he then spoke of serious matters, saying, “It would be a great mistake for people without managerial experience to come into power. Their populist slogans would be unlikely to achieve implementation.”
Another Presidential candidate, Nikolay Ulakhovich, is also active across the regions. His agent in Vitebsk, an ataman of the Vitebsk Regional Branch of the Republican Belarusian Kozakdom Public Association, Victor Nikolaev, explains that, in recent time, two outdoor meetings have been organised in the regional centre. Leaflets were distributed among residents and Mr. Ulakhovich was present personally to chat to voters.
Dmitry Bondarchuk, an agent for Tatiana Korotkevich in the Grodno Region, explains, “Our candidate has a tough schedule: ten meetings in just four days. On September 26th, Ms. Korotkevich was in Ivye and Lida; on September 27th — in Slonim, Novogrudok, Dyatlovo and Berezovka; and on September 29th — in Skidel, Shchuchin and Grodno. Many voters attended those meetings, asking topical questions.”
By Alexander Pimenov