One more presidential contender withdraws from race
Syarhey Ryzhow, the executive with a Vitsyebsk-based fruit and vegetable company, announced on October 21 that he had decided to withdraw from Belarus’ presidential campaign, linking his move to the slower-than-expected pace of the collection of ballot-access signatures in his support.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Mr. Ryzhow[/b] said that his nomination group had failed to collect the required 100,000 voter signatures to enable him to get access to the ballot in the country’s election.
He said that "pressure on the part of the authorities" was among the factors, along with a lack of funding, the small size of his nomination group and its insufficient experience.
Presidential contenders must gather at least 100,000 valid voter signatures between September 30 and October 29 to get registered as candidates.
Mr. Ryzhow said that he was satisfied with his "personal achievements, assistance provided by people surrounding him and reactions to his plans, statements and interviews run by the media."
"I coped with this difficult period in my life in a fair and honest way, avoiding unscrupulous political practices that I and members of my nomination group were being forced to accept," Mr. Ryzhow said.
He said that the opposition’s failure to select a single person to run against incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the election was a mistake. But he also described as a tragic mistake calls for "active resistance to the current authorities and street protests that may have unpredictable consequences for those calling on people to take to the street and the entire country on the whole."
Mr. Ryzhow said that he would now commit himself to establishing a charity fund and a political party to be called Belaya Rus.
Fourteen presidential contenders have remained in the presidential race following the withdrawal of Syarhey Ryzhow.
In an interview with BelaPAN`s online newspaper Belorusskiye Novosti (www.naviny.by) on October 18, Mr. Ryzhow said that he had not engaged in politics before.
At the same time, he then said that he was optimistic about his chances of being registered as a candidate. "If the collection of signatures in my support continues at the current pace, I expect a total of 105,000 to 110,000 signatures to be gathered," Mr. Ryzhow said.
He acknowledged that he was a supporter of Mr. [b]Lukashenka when the latter was elected president. "But time has passed and the situation in Belarus is now marred by economic decay, corruption and nepotism developing strong roots in the `vertical of power` created by the president, ill-considered stances, the inability of finding long-term partners, contradicting promises, the biased assessment of the situation, as well as by thoughtless and belated decisions on domestic issues," he said.