Alyaksandr Milinkevich, leader of the Movement for Freedom, said in an interview with BelaPAN that he would run in the next presidential election if a real alliance of "national democratic" forces was in place.
In addition, it is necessary that the election be held in conditions different from those during the presidential elections of 2001 and 2006, Mr. Milinkevich noted. "If the election is free and fair, then it will make sense to compete," he said.
Mr. Milinkevich noted that he would decide on his participation in the presidential race later, as "we don’t yet know in what conditions the election will be held.""But I can say now that I’m ready to run in the election," he added.
"It will certainly be better if a decision on participation in the election is made as early as possible," Mr. Milinkevich said. "Our information opportunities are limited and we need much time for promoting a candidate even if he is a well-known person. But it is hard to say now whether or not we should take part in the election. We have to see what conditions the authorities will offer. Unfortunately, they don’t consult the public and tend to decide at their own discretion. They promised to amend the Electoral Code, but the planned amendments have been kept secret from the public."
"If the election is free and fair, if votes are counted honestly and if all candidates have free and equal access to the media prior to the vote, the opposition will have a chance, but I strongly doubt that there will be such conditions," he said.
Mr. Milinkevich, 62, was one of the two opposition candidates in Belarus’ last presidential election, which was held in March 2006. According to the central election commission, he and the other opposition candidate, Alyaksandr Kazulin, gained 6.1 and 2.2 percent of the vote, respectively. The incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka was declared the winner with 83 percent. His opponents condemned the election as a farce. An independent survey revealed that Mr. Lukashenka won 63.6 percent of the vote and Mr. Milinkevich received 20.6 percent.
Belarus’ next presidential election is to be held no later than February 8, 2011.