- The Supreme Court barred Lukashenko's chief rival, Victor Babariko, from running.
- Another rival, Valery Tsapkala, still awaits his fate from the Court.
- Lukashenko, who is seeking his sixth presidential term, more so accuses the Western press of engaging in “biased” coverage of the campaign.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko read the riot act to the western media working in the country. He warned that they risk being expelled from the country because of what he described as the “biased” coverage of the country’s forthcoming August presidential elections.
Elsewhere, the country’s Supreme Court has rejected the appeal filed by the president’s main opponent, Victor Babariko, barring him from running in the forthcoming elections. According to the Court, the appeal by the former banker has been refused because he submitted it after the deadline had expired.
The Supreme Court, in it’s ruling, explained that it decided to refuse to open an administrative proceeding for the complaints submitted by Babariko to the decision of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) of the Republic of Belarus, owing to its late submission.
The country’s main judicial body notes that candidates who aspire to the Presidency of Belarus can, according to the laws, appeal the decision of the CEC within three days. “Babariko’s complaint about a decision taken on July 14 was delivered on July 17,” read the explanation. They added that, therefore, the deadline had “expired” the day before.
Another of the candidates for the presidential elections in Belarus rejected by the CEC, who awaits a decision from the Supreme Court, is Valery Tsapkala, a career diplomat and former director of a technology park in the country.
Lukashenko, 65, has been in power for 26 years. He is facing an election campaign marked by protests from the population. Lukashenko has lately seemingly directed his anger and frustrations to the media, which he has been harshly criticizing, especially the Western media.
The president considers the media, in his own words, “political pandemic,” for “calls for participation in disturbances” in the country. At the beginning of the current week, more than 200 Belarusian journalists demanded from the authorities to end the persecutions against the press. They also denounced that 43 media professionals were arrested during the election campaign alone.
Lukashenko, who is seeking his sixth presidential term, more so accuses the Western press of engaging in “biased” coverage of the campaign. He points out reports from the UK’s BBC and the Americans’ Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which he alleges encouraged confrontations in the country.
The Belarusian President also criticized the official local entities linked to the accreditation of the media. “They are calling for riots. Why do you tolerate this?” Lukashenko said at a government meeting, accusing the media of organising the protests that have recently been witnessed in the country and hurling “insult after insult.”
“There is no need to wait for any end of the electoral campaign. Expel from here if they do not comply with our laws and call people to the Maidans.”
Owing to his maneuvers to block his main opponents from vying, the Belarus president has widely been condemned by various entities, including many western nations, democracy organizations, as well as journalists and activists against his dictatorial tendencies. Alexandr Feduta, a Belarusian journalist and analyst had this to say regarding the issue:
“I do not think that something extraordinary happened with the barring of Babariko from the race. Everybody knew that this will happen sooner or later – if not today then during the period of the active electoral campaign. There is always a stick to beat someone.”