Women unite in attempt to overthrow Lukashenko in Belarus | World news

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Three women are leading a maverick opposition campaign for next month’s presidential election in Belarus, transforming the country’s politics as they attempt to topple Alexander Lukashenko, who has led for 25 years.At their head is Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a reluctant candidate who has more and more confidence in her challenge to Lukashenko.

Last week Tikhanovskaya gave campaign speeches on national television and to crowds by the thousands in the capital Minsk, in small towns and villages.

Initially replacing her husband, a popular blogger prevented from running and jailed by authorities, she has established herself as a political candidate and is comfortable establishing a direct link with voters, her allies say.

“Its growth has been colossal,” said Maria Kolesnikova, the presidential campaign leader for another opposition politician, Viktor Babariko, who was excluded from the elections and imprisoned by the government and allied with Tikhanovskaya.

“It must be said that she is an extremely courageous and courageous woman. She took a huge load on herself, ”Kolesnikova said.

Protests in support of opposition candidates have been the biggest challenge in years for Lukashenko, amid his anger over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and grievances over the economy and human rights. In addition to imprisoning his main electoral rivals, he has detained hundreds of people as part of a crackdown on dissent.

Tikhanovskaya also had to make sacrifices. Last week, it was revealed that she had taken her children out of the country for their own safety, after being nearly chased out of the race by threats against her family. Her husband Sergei is still behind bars for participating in a rally in May.

“Yes, I was scared at first,” she said in a televised speech. “I know how far this government can go to keep its place. But I am no longer afraid.

In noisy election rallies, Tikhanovskaya and Kalesnikava were joined by Veronika Tsepkalo, a former Microsoft employee and campaign leader of her husband Valery Tsepkalo, who was also excluded from the race and fled the country with her children in Moscow on last week. he had been warned that an order had been given for his arrest.

In an explosive announcement earlier this month, the three women said they would unite their campaigns, connecting what are seen as complementary voters between wealthier urban voters and Lukashenko opponents in the countryside.

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