Main challengers for single candidate’s position state their readiness to defend victory in the presidential elections in the streets of the Belarusian cities. They said about that in the break of the Congress work at a special press conference. The chairman of the United Civil Party Anatol Lyabedzka, one of the leaders of the “third sector” Alyaksandr Milinkevich, a leader of the Party of Communists of Belarus Syarhei Kalyakin and the chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada Stanislau Shushkevich have taken part in the press conference. Mr.Shushkevich said: “We’ll go all the way!”
An adviser of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, a deputy chairman of the party “PORA” Serhiy Yevtushenko is an honorary guest of the Congress. After observing the work of the Congress, he said to the Charter’97 press center: “I believe that the Congress, to which Ukrainian democrats are proud to be invited, is the crucial moment in the process of Belarusian democrats’ returning their country to the family of free and prosperous European nations”.
One of coordinators of the youth movement Zubr, Uladzimir Kobets, is present at the Congress as a guest of honour. He believes that “the National Congress of Democratic Forces is undoubtedly an important stage in the process of the Belarusian opposition’s joining together. Everybody is certainly waiting for the results of the Congress, a single opposition’s candidate’s election. But the steps made by the single candidate and his team right after the Congress are to become more important than the Congress itself”.
The European Commission has made a decision to set up a mission in Belarus, the member of the European Parliament Arpad Duka-Zolyomi said, delivering a speech in Minsk at the Congress of Democratic Forces. As said by him, it is expected that the representation of the European Mission in Minsk would be engaged in monitoring of the human rights, distribution of information, coordination of the projects, Interfax informs.
Political prisoner Andrei Klimov, sentenced to one and a half years of corrective labour for organizing a street protest rally, managed to take part in the work of the Congress. Today morning he has arrived in Minsk and was registered as a deputy. At the Congress of Democratic Forces a video address of the Belarusian political prisoner, one of the leaders of the “Young Front” Paval Sevyarynets has been demonstrated.
The Congress of Democratic Forces has opened in Minsk. About 1000 delegates from all over Belarus are taking part in it. Representatives of democratic political parties of European countries, heads of diplomatic missions are present at the Congress. We offer you some pictures taken before the congress.
A delegation of Poland’s Law and Justice party has been denied entry into Belarus. The group, headed by two MPs, Filip Libicki and Norbert Napieraj, had been stopped at the Kuznica Bialostocka crossing by Belarusian border guards and turned back on grounds they did not have a notary confirmed ownership certificate for the vehicle they were driving. The Law and Justice delegation had been on its way to Minsk for the joint Democratic Congress of Belarusian opposition forces who are to name their candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. On Friday the Congress organizers did not make available the list of some one hundred invited foreign guests anticipating they could encounter difficulties in entering Belarus.
In his address to the Congress, the leader of the Russian Union of the Right Forces Nikita Belykh expressed support to the actions of Belarusian democrats. He said that the URF will support the single candidate elected at the Congress. As said by him, the URF is ready to give a thousand of its agitators which would act as electioneerers, political technologists and advisers at the upcoming presidential elections. “We all are to work a lot, to work jointly. Your cause is right, and the victory would be yours,” he said in the end of his speech.
One of the influential American and world politicians, John McCain, sent a video address t the delegates of the Congress. In particular, he said: “Holding a congress is a sign of courage of Belarusian democrats. Today you are building a foundation of the real democracy in your country. Your struggle is supported by the international democratic community. We are by your side”.
Today civil society activists have handed out leaflets with the information about the Day of Solidarity on October 16 among the participants and guests of the Congress of the Democratic Forces of Belarus.
The Congress of Democratic Forces of Belarus is greeted by former State Secretary, chairman of the US National Democratic Institute of Foreign Relations Madeleine Albright, vice speaker of the European Parliament Janusz Onyszkiewicz. Madeleine Albright and Janusz Onyszkiewicz underlined necessity of democratic changes in Belarus, and expressed hope for a quick victory of democratic forces in our country. “Belarus must not stay a black hole in the center of Europe,” the address of welcome of the European Parliament’s Vice-Speaker reads.
Today in the Culture Palace of the Minsk Automobile Factory (MAZ) the Congress of Democratic Forces of Belarus starts its work. On the first day of the congress the political situation in Belarus and the democratic forces’ programme of actions are to be discussed. The draft resolution has been agreed upon by the Permanent council of democratic forces in advance; however it is possible that the document would be amended during the congress.