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Newly Elected Belarusian Opposition Lawmaker Considering Bid For Presidency

  • RFE/RL's Belarus Service

Belarusian lawmaker Hanna Kanapatskaya, among the first opposition parliamentarians to be elected in 20 years, says she might even take part in a presidential election in the future "if my parliamentary tenure works well."

Kanapatskaya, a member of the United Civil Party, and independent candidate Alena Anisim were the first opposition lawmakers since 1996 to win seats in Belarus’s 151-seat parliament in elections on September 11.

Speaking to journalists in Minsk on September 13, Kanapatskaya said she will focus on ushering in electoral reforms, fighting a law targeting private entrepreneurship, and annulling a law on parasitism, a Soviet-era crime still in use that targets those working in underground private ventures but also political dissidents.

Kanapatskaya also said that Belarusians "want change" but added that the country was not ready for mass protests because they feared a repeat of the sort of violence that followed the Maidan protests in Ukraine in 2014.

Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and supported separatists in eastern Ukraine after popular protests toppled pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Belarus has not held a vote that was assessed free or democratic since the early 1990s and authorities routinely punish dissent and keep a tight lid on the media in the post-Soviet country of around 10 million people.