Former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich told reporters in Minsk on Monday that he was planning to run in Belarus’ next presidential election, expected to be held in early 2011.
The nomination of the 62-year-old Milinkevich, leader of the Movement of Freedom, was approved by the Rada (Council) of the Movement, at a meeting held on April 30.
Those who have already announced their presidential bids include Vital Rymashewski, co-chairman of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party; Mikalay Statkevich, chairman of the Narodnaya Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party; Andrey Sannikaw, leader of an opposition group called European Belarus; Ales Mikhalevich, a former deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front; and Syarhey Haydukevich, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party.
In the previous presidential election, held in March 2006, Mr. Milinkevich, who represented a broad opposition coalition, had 6.1 percent of the vote, according to the central election commission. Alyaksandr Lukashenka was declared the winner with 83 percent.
Alyaksandr Milinkevich was born in Hrodna on July 25, 1947 into the family of teachers. His great-great grandfather and great grandfather participated in the 1863-64 anti-Russian uprising led by Kastus Kalinowski and were punished by the tsarist authorities by depriving them of their estate. His grandfather was an activist of Belarusian nationalist organizations in the Hrodna region in the 1920s. His father, Uladzimir Baran, held the title of Honored Teacher of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Mr. Milinkevich holds a doctorate candidate’s degree in physics and mathematics.
From 1980 through 1984, he headed the Physics Department at the University of Setif, Algeria. He served as assistant professor at Hrodna State University between 1978 and 1980 and between 1984 and 1990. From 1990 through 1996, he was deputy head of the Hrodna City Executive Committee (city government) in charge of culture, education, healthcare, religion, sports, youth and international affairs. In the following two years, he was representative of the Belarus Soros Foundation in Hrodna. He founded a non-governmental organization called Ratusha and headed it since 1996 until its closure by a court decision in 2003. The official grounds for the closure were that the NGO had used a Risograph digital printing machine without a publishing license.
As a resource center, Ratusha provided assistance to more than a hundred NGOs, including those not recognized officially, in Hrodna and the Hrodna region. The organization was the UN Development Program's main agent in Belarus under its Internet international project, providing free web access for NGOs.
In 1996 and 1997, Mr. Milinkevich was president of the basketball club Hrodna’93, the national title winner in 1998-2001, 2003, 2004.
In 2001, he chaired the campaign headquarters of Syamyon Domash in that year’s presidential race.