Valery Tsepkalo was not allowed to run against Alexander Lukashenko in this month’s polls, so his wife, Veronika, has teamed up with two other women – including figurehead Svetlana Tikhanouskaya – to challenge the incumbent.
Lukashenko was declared the winner in the August 9 polls, but the the results were dismissed as fraudulent by the opposition. The UK shares this view.
Tsepkalo said the president must step down, rejecting as meaningless an offer by Lukashenko to hold new elections following a referendum on the constitution.
“Nobody believes it anymore,” the IT entrepreneur and former diplomat told Sky News.
“He would like to pacify the electorate, pacify the demonstrators, the people who take to the streets. He’s a liar. ”
When asked how long he thought Mr Lukashenko could hold on to power, he replied: “Maybe a few weeks. Two months maximum.
“This is the maximum that the Belarusian public would offer him. This is my feeling.
“The situation is changing so fast that he cannot run the country because he has absolutely lost his authority, he has lost his popularity and the only thing that is rising in Belarus now is hatred of him.”
Mr Tsepkalo, a former ambassador to the United States before falling out of favor with the regime, fled to Moscow last month with his two young children, fearing arrest.
His wife remained in the campaign but also moved to Russia after the elections.
The family has since moved to Ukraine and this week plans to move to Lithuania, where Ms Tikhanouskaya and her two children are also based.
He said he plans to return to Belarus once he is sure to do so and will run for president once another election is held.
Ms Tikhanouskaya said she would be a transitional leader, paving the way for free and fair elections.
Tsepkala said he hopes Belarus has a future that sees the country continue its close relations with Russia and also establish strong ties with the European Union and the United Kingdom.
“I am pragmatic. I am not motivated by ideology, ”he said, speaking of Kiev.
“I understand the importance of Russia for Belarus. You cannot ignore it. More than 50% of trade is done with Russia.
“But at the same time, we understand that we are a European country. We must share the ideas of democracy.
“We should certainly be much more open to the West. Much, much, much more open. “