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Belarus: Presidential Hopeful Haydukevich Says He Will Become President

(RFE/RL) Syarhey Haydukevich, leader of the Belarusian Liberal Democratic Party, is registered as a candidate in the country's presidential vote in May. On 10 January, Haydukevich answered questions posed by the listeners of RFE/RL's Belarus Service. The following are selected excerpts.

RFE/RL: Why do you want to become a president of Belarus?

Syarhey Haydukevich: I will become president. Everything is heading towards this outcome. The future belongs to us.

RFE/RL: What are your chances of being elected? Which of the candidates you would support yourself?

Haydukevich: I am moving forward all the time, my rating is growing, the image of the party is also getting better. Millions of people know me. I have enormous support. There the so-called "candidate of the united opposition [Alyaksandr Milinkevich] has no chance. I want him to think about that.

RFE/RL: What is your election slogan?

Haydukevich: Long live new Belarus; long live unity.

RFE/RL: What is your opinion about the EU after the bloc's enlargement?

Haydukevich: I support the EU and its enlargement. I think it is important for us to seek better relations with the EU.

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Syarhey Haydukevich

Syarhey Haydukevich

Syarhey Haydukevich, who was born in 1954 in Minsk, served in the Soviet Armed Forces in 1976-91, rising to the rank of colonel. From 1982 to 1984, he was a Soviet military adviser in Iraq. In 1992-94, Haydukevich was chairman of the government's committee for the social protection of employees of state security bodies, the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Border Troops, and soldiers who participated in Soviet military operations abroad.

As the head of the Belarusian Liberal Democratic Party, he has been criticized by party members for his allegedly authoritarian practices and for the party's poor performances during recent parliamentary and presidential elections. In the 2001 presidential election, Haydukevich won 2.5 percent of the vote.

In June 2005, a Minsk court ordered opposition daily "Narodnaya volya," to pay 100 million rubles ($46,500) in damages to Haydukevich for defaming him in an article published in March. The article suggested that Haydukevich was involved in the illegal sale of Iraqi oil under quotas received from the regime of Saddam Hussein.

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