Milinkevich promises that his camp would not "let anyone steal our victory" 11:36, 27/02/2006
Aleksandr Milinkevich, united opposition forces` presidential contender, promised that his camp would not let "anyone steal our victory" in the coming election. In his first-ever campaign rally in Minsk, the candidate stressed that March 19, the main voting day, would be crucial for the country`s fate.
Mr. Milinkevich urged some 600 people who gathered at an assembly hall near a military unit base on the outskirts of Minsk to refrain from early voting.
The contender said that if elected president, he would change the government system. "One person would not have the powers of an emperor. There would be no decrees and edicts which are above the law. The Council of Ministers would not depend on the Presidential Administration which should be reorganized into the president`s office," he noted.
Mr. Milinkevich pledged to restore the constitutional two-term limit on the presidency lifted after the 2004 referendum and exonerate all convicts sent to prison on what many think are politically-motivated charges.
While touting his election platform, the presidential hopeful said that it had been written by researchers, company and farm managers, experts with the economy ministry and the National Bank of Belarus. "This is a truly popular program of those advocating changes who account for two thirds of the Belarusian population. We can be better off than all our neighbors," he said.
"We`re not going to turn our backs on anyone," he said while speaking about his foreign-policy priorities. "No one will help us except ourselves. Belarus in its present form is not welcome in Europe," he added.
Belarus` three state-run national channels, BT, STV and ONT, sent their camera crews to the rally. Several old-age persons repeatedly approached the stage with the alleged purpose of interfering in Mr. Milinkevich`s speech. The contender urged the gathering and his associates to stay calm in order to avoid scenes that could be used by the TV networks for portraying the meeting as scandalous.