Trio of women challenge authoritarian Lukashenko in Belarus

By Ignacio Ortega

Moscow, Aug 7 (efe-epa).- Three Belarusian women have allied themselves to put an end to Europe’s last authoritarian regime in the country’s upcoming election.

They share an opposition to long-time leader Alexandr Lukashenko and a desire for democratic change without violence or external interference.

Lukashenko described them as “these three poor girls” on the eve of presidential elections on Sunday and said “they don’t understand what they are saying or what they are doing”.

He was referring in particular to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the main opposition candidate and the only one with a real chance of ousting the neo-Stalinist leader, who has been in power since 1994.

The 38-year-old decided to run for president after her husband, opposition leader and blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky was arrested for disobedience to authority and then accused of instigating mass disorder.

“I do not seek power. I was never interested in politics, but I know this is the only way to free my husband,” she told Efe at the start of the election campaign.

As the weeks went by, Tikhanovskaya, an English translator by profession, gained support among other opposition candidates and popularity with her fellow citizens.

She drew a crowd of more than 60,000 people at one campaign rally, which is unprecedented in the country since its independence in 1991.

“The Belarusians have woken up,” she added.

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