Anatol Sidarevich was elected as the new chair of the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party (BSDP) at a convention held by the opposition party in Minsk on October 10.
A total of three people were on the ballot, including Hramada BSDP Deputy Chairman Valery Fralow and Viktar Kryval, head of the party’s Uzda district organization. They received 11 and seven votes, respectively, compared with 35 cast in favor of Mr. Sidarevich, deputy chairman of the Hramada BSDP. Thirty-three delegates voted against Mr. Sidarevich.
While speaking at the convention before the vote, Mr. Sidarevich expressed alarm about the "critical situation" in which the Hramada BSDP had found itself. The party does not have headquarters and does not conduct any negotiations on cooperation with other political and civil society groups advocating similar values, he said.
After the outcome of the vote was announced, the former Hramada BSDP chairman, Anatol Lyawkovich, denounced it as illegitimate.
"A non-member of the party has been elected as leader for the first time in the party`s history," Mr. Lyakovich said and left the hall.
Three more persons had been nominated by the party to stand for election. They, however, refused to accept their nominations. Aleh Trusaw, head of the Francisak Skaryna Belarusian Language Society, said that he was busy with activities in the current post, while Iryna Vyashtard said that she would withdraw in support of Mr. Sidarevich. Mr. Lyawkovich was the third person nominated for election as chair. He said that he was ready to continue working with the party, but he now wanted to look at the Hramada BSDP leadership`s activities "from outside."
A number of delegates expressed harsh criticism of Mr. Lyakovich as Hramada BSDP chairman, accusing him of failing to come up with any clear-cut strategy for the country`s presidential campaign, and giving an interview to the government-controlled newspaper Sovetskaya Belorussiya.
On October 5, Mr. Lyawkovich said that he considered Mr. Sidarevich a prominent figure of the party but unable to be an efficient leader.
In August, Mr. Sidarevich issued a press statement saying that he was leaving the party and would not explain his decision. However, a few days later, he withdrew his statement, noting that he had not formally resigned his membership.
Mr. Lyawkovich was elected chairman of the Hramada BSDP at a special party convention held on August 3, 2008. He succeeded former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin, who was serving a prison sentence at the time.