Initiative groups of the opposition election candidates demand equal access to television.
On 24 January Viktar Sheiman, the head of the Lukashenka initiative group, appeared on Belarusian television to say that over one and a half million Belarusians signed in favor of Aliaxandr Lukashenka as a presidential candidate without any pressure.
After that the heads of the other initiative groups sent letters to Belarusian television and Central Election Committee, expressing a desire to comment on the course of the election campaign in a way different from that of Mr. Sheiman, reported Radio Liberty.
What caused the head of the Kazulin initiative group Mechyslau Hryb to be especially indignant was not these words but the editorial comment of the Belarusian television that all election headquarters apart from the Lukashenka one silence the signature collection information. Mr. Hryb sent a letter to the Belarusian television and CEC, requiring that equality of opportunity be exercised and he be given an possibility to comment on the signature collection on television.
The head of the united opposition candidate's headquarters Siarhei Kaliakin sent similar appeals to CEC and television. He also wants to argue with Viktar Sheiman: “As regards his opinion that they have been collecting signatures in a fair way, I think that most of the Belarusian people who have given their signatures could tell them about arm-twisting and dismissal threats and other reprisals".
The Milinkievich initiative group sent to CEC and procurator’s office numerous complaints, said Mr. Kaliakin.
The leader of the LDPB Siarhei Haidukievich also expressed his surprise at the Belarusian television saying that the candidates keep secret the campaign course, none of Belarusian television representatives called him, said Haidukievich. He then added he would also appeal to Belarusian television and CEC, requesting the application of the equal opportunity principle to potential candidates.
The CEC secretary Mikalai Lazavik said that it is the television channel's right to decide who to show: “The election legislation does not provide for television time to be allocated to the heads of initiative groups… This issue is beyond the competence of the Central Committee”.