Kobryn-based opposition activist Ales Mekh launches presidential bid

Apart from Mr. Mekh, six persons have already announced their intention to run in this year’s presidential election...

Ales Mekh, deputy chairman of the Movement for the Statehood and Independence of Belarus led by Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, has announced plans to run in this year’s presidential election.

In an interview with BelaPAN, Mr. Mekh, a resident of Kobryn, Brest region, said that his main goal was to unite the Belarusian nation. “I’ve decided to participate in this presidential election because Belarus has no real opposition forces and because the country is in danger of losing its independence,” he said. “The people who call themselves oppositionists have nothing to do with the opposition. As for our sovereignty, it has already been partially lost. We’ve sold our gas pipeline network and allowed the Kremlin to establish military bases in our territory and Russianize us.”

Mr. Mekh insisted that he had a team but refused to give specific names. “These are scholars, industrial experts, business owners who have realized that they need an independent country to earn money for their families and raise their children,” he said.

Mr. Mekh, who was then chairman of the Kobryn district chapter of the Belarusian Popular Front, ran in the 2008 House of Representatives elections. At the beginning of the election campaign, Mr. Mekh, an engineer by trade, was denied the prolongation of his employment contract with state pipeline operator AAT Beltranshaz, despite being on its staff for 14 years.

In February 2011, he and 85 other members of the Belarusian Popular Front quit the party in protest against the new leadership’s policy. They subsequently formed Belaruski Rukh, pledging to push for the release of the political prisoners, free and fair elections without Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and the toughest possible sanctions against the Belarusian government.

On May 24, Mr. Mekh participated in a meeting of a group of opposition activists planning to hold a founding conference for the Movement for the Statehood and Independence of Belarus.

Apart from Mr. Mekh, six persons have already announced their intention to run in this year’s presidential election, expected to be held in November. They are: Anatol Lyabedzka, chairperson of the United Civic Party; Syarhey Haydukevich, chairperson of the Liberal Democratic Party; Tatsyana Karatkevich, an activist of the “Tell the Truth!” movement; Syarhey Kalyakin, chairman of the "Spravedlivy Mir" (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left; Alena Anisim, first deputy chairperson of the Francisak Skaryna Belarusian Language Society; and Yury Shulhan, a self-described “social parasite.”