Some have many while others fewer
How is the regional campaign to collect signatures for candidates wishing to run for president going?
As of the morning of August 6th, the district electoral commission in the Mogilev Region had received signature sheets on which 170,000 residents had placed their signature in favour of the current President.
Vladimir Ryzhkov, who co-ordinates the work of support teams in the Mogilev Region to collect signatures in favour of Alexander Lukashenko, notes, “Residents of the Shklov, Dribin, Krugloe and Cherikov districts are most active; 40 percent have already placed their signatures in favour of the current President. The collection of signatures across the region is active.”
According to Mr. Ryzhkov, people’s mood is prudent. Typical questions asked by those in the Mogilev Region of teams collecting signatures for Mr. Lukashenko include the availability of bank loans for housing construction, the organisation of Internet trade by large trading chains and the beautification of courtyards. They also suggest constructing more stations to soften water supplies. All feedback is recorded, for submission to the district leadership.
It’s almost 35 degrees Celsius on the street, yet people are gathering at Brest’s Tsentralny Market. The Gramada flag, of the social-democrats, flaps a little in the breeze, as they collect signatures in favour of candidate Tatiana Korotkevich.
However, within a few minutes, it becomes clear that there is a general lack of public support (despite the enthusiasm of the signature collectors). Most people pass by, saying ‘No, thank you’ or ‘I’ve already given my signature’. Anna Kanyus, the Chair of the Gramada city organisation, tells us, “Early in the campaign, we gained more signatures for our candidate. Now, it’s noticeable that interest is waning; many have already placed their signatures. The weather also has its role to play. It’s very hot, making it uncomfortable for people to linger. Nevertheless, despite difficulties, the support team has collected more than 7,000 signatures in favour of Tatiana Korotkevich.”
The ‘A Just World’ Belarusian Left Party has nine fixed stations collecting signatures in the Gomel Region, in favour of their candidate, Sergei Kalyakin. They are constantly present in Gomel, Zhlobin, Svetlogorsk and Mozyr and have a mobile team travelling through the south-east of the country. They plan to visit every district.
Vladimir Sekerko, the Chairman of the Gomel regional organisation of the Belarusian Left Party ‘A Just World’, co-ordinates activity in the region. Of the ‘subscription race’, he notes, “The process is proceeding normally, without significant problems, except for a few isolated cases. One of Gomel’s market complexes forbade us from collecting signatures nearby, saying it was their private territory. In Rogachev and Svetlogorsk they refused to accept donations on behalf of our candidate. However, these issues have been now settled and everything has clicked into place, so we’re continuing work as usual.”
The Chair of the Grodno regional organisation of the United Civil Party, Alexandra Vasilevich, who heads campaign headquarters for Anatoly Lebedko, tells us frankly, “We haven’t seen queues lining up to sign in favour of our candidate, unlike in 2010. We have seven support teams operating in the region: two in Grodno and five in the districts. In the regional centre, our stations in the suburb of Forty and at Skidelsky Market daily collect between 15 and 30 signatures. If it were not for the heat, we may have seen more; however, because of the hot weather, people are leaving the city and many don’t take their passports. Accordingly, we’ve been visiting people at home in the evenings, assisted by just over a hundred volunteers. Most are individual entrepreneurs or are employed by private firms, so it’s difficult for them to find time to collect signatures during the day. Most of those signing are young people (aged between 18 and 35). As of August 6th, our support teams have gathered 1,389 signatures but we hope to accelerate our activity soon.”
By Alexey Feofanov