Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

BPF will not participate in opposition coalition`s presidential primaries, new leader says


Although the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF) will not withdraw from the United Pro-democratic Forces, it will not participate in the coalition’s primaries to nominate a common presidential candidate, Alyaksey Yanukevich, the newly elected leader of the party, told reporters in Minsk on September 7.

Withdrawal from the United Pro-democratic Forces (UPF) is not "part of our program," Mr. Yanukevich said.

"Joining or quitting are unnecessary moves that don`t matter to us in the least," he said. "We`ll pull out of the UPF primaries. However, this decision is up to the Soym [BPF Council], which will soon hold a meeting."

Nevertheless, the party will "lower the level of its representation in the opposition coalition", Mr. Yanukevich said. "We don`t consider it possible to make joint plans together with the organizations that are currently members of the UPF," he said.

However, the party will cooperate with the coalition "more broadly" in an effort to improve Belarus’ electoral regulations, Mr. Yanukevich said.

The BPF could not even hypothetically support a candidate who says that it would be expedient to introduce the Russian ruble in Belarus and recognize the independence of Georgia`s breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Mr. Yanukevich said.

"Of course, I mean Syarhey Kalyakin, leader of the Belarusian Party of Communists, which actively participates in the UPF`s procedure to nominate a presidential candidate," Mr. Yanukevich said.

By getting involved in this procedure, the party would commit itself to backing the winner, he said.

On the other hand, all these procedures take up a lot of energy and time that could be spent on work with people, Mr. Yanukevich noted. "To participate in the primaries is to fight for leadership in the opposition circles," he said. "We`re less interested in this at present than in [winning] public support."

The BPF will not have any dialogue with the government until election regulations and their application become truly democratic, said newly elected Deputy Chairman Ihar Lyalkow.

Nor will the party those cooperate with the forces whose programs significantly differ from that of the BPF and with those who seek support in Russia and are ready to jeopardize the political and economic independence of Belarus, he said.

The 33-year-old Yanukevich was elected chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front, Belarus` oldest opposition party, at a convention on September 5. He defeated Lyavon Barshchewski, who sought re-election, by 174 votes to 144.