Stage props for Minsk elections

The drawing ceremony to distribute time on air, for the presidential candidates in Belorussia to speak on radio and TV (November 22nd to December 3rd) has already begun at the session of the Central Election Commission in Minsk. However, the procedure itself and its results have come as a surprise to many candidates and have triggered protests among them.

The well-known Byelorussian politician and Deputy of Parliament of two convocations - Professor of Philosophy Gennady Grushevoi - says that giving air time to the presidential candidates and also the organization of their teledebates on the Byelorussian television can be compared with a "comedy at the time of Peter the Great".

Equally skeptical on that score is the leader in popularity ratings among Lukashenko's opponents is Vladimir Neklyayev, also a presidential candidate, a well-known poet and the former chairman of the Union of Writers of the Republic of Belarus.

"I've recorded my talk on the radio today and asked the people in charge to give me a copy, so that I will be able to check whether what I said will conform to what will be on air tomorrow. The answer was "No".

According to our calculations, the name of Alexander Lukashenko is mentioned in the mass media by 1250 times more than the names of all other candidates for the presidential post combined. Taking this into account, as well as the possibility of gaining access to mass media, these elections can be regarded neither free nor just, Neklyayev said.

Speaking about the "equality on air" Byelorussian style, the presidential candidate and poet Vladimir Neklyayev is smiling, while an expert on mass-media, Leonid Mindlin looks very serious:

"Teledebates among presidential candidates are an innovation for this year's elections. Probably, this is the most interesting thing here. However, of particular interest here is that all presidential candidates, except Alexander Lukashenko, are taking part in the teledebates. Which means that the main candidate and the main opponent will not get involved. Thus, all the rest will have a chance to fight and quarrel with one another. I think that this is a cunning move the organizers of the teledebates pin their hopes on: there will emerge a scuffle and a squabble in the studio, and the host will only have to watch and fan the flames it. However, live air is actually a "black hole". I say this as an experienced TV worker. Therefore, the opposition is facing the task of not succumbing to provocation, and turning these debates into a common grave for the Byelorussian democracy and for the political career of our candidates."

No matter how polished the speeches of Lukashenko's opponents and their remarks during the teledebates are, the nine presidential candidates in Belarus are concerned over the fact that this "Comedy" will end 2 weeks before the elections. And the two final and decisive weeks will be dedicated to the propaganda for only one candidate - the 10th one. Or to be more exact, the first one: the current President of Belarus.


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