- Title: BELARUS: PREVIEW OF REFERENDUM ON LUKASHENKO RULE.
- Date: 16th October 2004
- Summary: (EU) MINSK, BELARUS (OCTOBER 15, 2004 AND FILE) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. MV/GV: MONUMENT TO THE UNKOWN SOLDIER, WOMAN SOLDIER GUARDING MONUMENT; SOLDIERS CHANGING GUARD AT FLAME TO THE UNKOWN SOLDIER (3 SHOTS) 0.19 2. CU: ELECTION BILLBOARDS READING "FOR BELARUS!" 0.24 3. GV: BILLBOARD, PEOPLE WALKING BY 0.31 (EU) MINSK, BELARUS (FILE - 2001) (REUTERS -- ACCESS ALL) 4. GV/MV: PRESIDENT ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO AT AN INDEPENDENCE DAY PARADE; MILITARY PARADE ON INDEPENDENCE DAY; LUKASHENKO GREETING WOMAN AND A YOUNG GIRIL AT INDEPENDENCE DAY PARADE (3 SHOTS) 1.04 (EU) MINSK, BELARUS (FILE) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 5. GV/MV: LUKASHENKO ON AN ICE HOCKEY RING AT START OF MATCH (3 SHOTS) 1.34 (EU) MINSK, BELARUS (OCTOBER 15, 2004) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 6. GROUP OF MEN STANDING BY A WORLD WAR TWO TANK MONUMENT 7. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) NIKOLAI CHIRGINET, HEAD OF BELARUS PARLIAMENT SECURITY COMMITTEE, SAYING: "He (President Lukashenko) has kept to his word, he has raised the level of the economy, the people support him. The president is solving all the problems his people face today." 8. NEWSPAPER KIOSK 9. PEOPLE BUYING NEWSPAPERS, NEWSPAPERS HEADLINE READING: "YOUR VOTE IS IMPORTANT" 2.03 10. MV/GV: INTERIOR OF BELARUS OPPOSITION PARTY OFFICES (2 SHOTS) 2.16 11. CU/PAN: POSTERS OF POLITICAL ACTIVISTS WHO HAVE GONE MISSING 2.27 12. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ANATOLY LYBICHKO, AN OPPOSITION LEADER SAYING: "The opposition slogan is "Yes to Belarus" and "No to Lukashenko". It is our strategy. The strategy of Lukashenko is total control of everything. 2.42 13. GV: CITY CENTRE STREET 2.48 14. ELECTION POSTER IN WINDOW OF A CAFE 15. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANDREI, A MINSK RESIDENT SAYING: "The idea of the referendum generally is against the constitution of the republic of Belarus. That's why I think it's the big fault of the president and the government to initiate such a referendum." 16. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) VAYCHESLAV, PENSIONER AND A MINSK RESIDENT SAYING: "I'll vote for Lukashenko. Because he gave us an opportunity to live. All the rest (of politicians) are rubbish. They led us to a situation where we had nothing to eat and the shops were empty. Lukashenko brought it (living standards) all back up again." 3.30 17. VARIOUS: EARLY BALLOTS BEING CAST FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE UNABLE TO VOTE ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 17 (6 SHOTS) 4.04 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 31st October 2004 12:00
- Location: MINSK, BELARUS
- Country: Belarus
- Reuters ID: LVAGXS9PAB53ROEBQFC5BE0LU5M
- Story Text: Belarus to vote on extending the term of office of
the last hardline leader in post-Soviet Europe.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, regarded
as the last hardline leader in post-Soviet Europe, has
staked his future on a "yes" vote in a referendum on Sunday
(October 17) aimed at enabling him to extend his stay in
The weekend referendum, organised alongside parliamentary
elections, asks voters in the country of 10
million to approve the removal of a constitutional
provision obliging Lukashenko to step down in 2006 after
First elected in 1994 on a tide of revulsion at the
upheaval following the Soviet collapse, Lukashenko remains
broadly popular, especially in the countryside. But the
polls will show how much his pledges to uphold Soviet-era
certainties and unrelenting stand on dissent hold sway over
With banners displayed throughout Minsk proclaiming
"For Belarus!" and depicting happy families or servicemen,
Lukashenko's supporters say a new mandate would entrench
stability for new generations.
"He (President Lukashenko) has kept to his word, he has
raised the level of the economy, the people support him.
The president has solved all the problems his people face
today," said Nikolai Chirginet, head of Belarus's
parliamentary security committee.
Surveys commissioned by government bodies show the
moustachioed, athletic Lukashenko clearing the 50 percent
mark of those on voting lists needed to change the
Lukashenko, sometimes referred to as "batka" (father)
in Belarus, likes to demonstrate his hands-on management
style by making surprise visits to farms. He has also
promised to raise monthly wages to at least $250 next year
The balding, moustachioed Lukashenko is an avid ice
hockey player who regularly trains with Belarus's national
team. A non-smoker who drinks only occasionally, he also
likes skiing and tennis and promotes a healthy lifestyle.
The Belorussian leader used referendums in 1996 to
prolong his mandate, dissolve a defiant parliament and
restore Soviet-era symbols. He says leaders of ex-Soviet
states, including those in Central Asia who have resorted
to similar tactics, back the ballot.
Lukashenko also stands by the cornerstone of his
policies -- creation of a new post-Soviet union with
Russia, though Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin has clearly
gone cold on the idea.
The opposition, united after boycotting the last
election, has modest goals -- expose irregularities, rally
resistance to the referendum and, perhaps, gain a toehold
"The opposition slogan is "Yes to Belarus" and "No to
Lukashenko". It is our strategy. The strategy of Lukashenko
is total control of everything," an opposition leader,
Anatoly Lybichko told Reuters.
Independent polls say that is less than certain after
a low-key campaign. But the nationalist and liberal
opposition, battered by crackdowns, threats and closures of
newspapers, says authorities will cheat to get the results
Western observers, who denounced the last
parliamentary and presidential elections as subject to mass
fraud, will again monitor the polling.
The West has lost patience with Lukashenko's
heavy-handed policies and adherence to Soviet-style command
As the election approached, the European Union denied
entry to four senior Belarussian officials in protest at
the disappearance of three opposition politicians and a
journalist. The United States has pledged similar steps.
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