Updated at 16:42,06-12-2016

Lyabedzka: System that exists in Belarus is economic dead end

The system that exists in Belarus is an economic, financial and moral dead end, Anatol Lyabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party (UCP) who is a campaign aide to parliamentary candidate Uladzimir Ramanowski, said during a debate broadcast by state television network Belarus Two on Tuesday.

Mr. Lyabedzka thoroughly defeated his main opponent, House of Representatives member Svyatlana Shylava, attacking her on her record as a lawmaker and deflecting all challenges with quick and witty replies. His other opponent Yawhen Kryzhanowski, a prominent comedian who is running in the elections on behalf of the Liberal Democratic Party, came across as eloquent but much less forceful than Mr. Lyabedzka.

According to Mr. Lyabedzka, Belarus' biggest problem is "the lack of free and honest elections." "If there are no honest elections, there is no economic success of an independent judicial system," he said. "There're no honest elections, but there're political prisoners."

Mr. Lyabedzka, who is a candidate in another electoral district, said that he and Mr. Ramanowski would withdraw from the parliamentary race because Belarus needs no "pseudo-elections for the pseudo-parliament."

Of the 2,500 citizens of Belarus interviewed by pollsters this past February and asked to name three current members of the House of Representatives, none of them was able to name even one, and fewer than four percent of those interviewed knew the name of its chairman, Mr. Lyabedzka said.

This means that the so-called lawmakers were not elected in 2012 but had the elections rigged in their favor, he said.

"Why call on people to participate in something that doesn't exist?" Mr. Lyabedzka said. "There is no parliament, no Representatives and honestly admit that we're here to tell people about this."

However, television and radio addresses to voters by 20 candidates representing the United Civic Party have not been broadcast because of censorship, he said.

Mr. Lyabedzka slammed the social and economic policies of the current government. "What success can we talk about if there are 17 liters of pure alcohol per capita in Belarus every year even though degradation begins after eight liters? We're two times above this limit. What success can we talk about if a million citizens of our country are migrant workers in Russia and 500,000 more are 'unnecessary people'? What kind of system was created we have if the country doesn't need half a million working-age people?"