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Belarusian Opposition Activist Announces Bid For President

Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu presented his book, "100 Faces of Unemployment," in June.
Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu presented his book, "100 Faces of Unemployment," in June.
MINSK -- Prominent Belarusian writer and opposition activist Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu has officially announced his intention to run for president, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Nyaklyaeu said at a press briefing in Minsk on September 16 that if he won the presidential election, now scheduled for December 19, he would do everything possible to turn Belarus from a presidential republic into parliamentary-presidential republic.

Nyaklyaeu, a former chairman of the Union of Belarusian Writers, is the leader of the Moving Forward movement. The movement has gained prominence in the months since Nyaklyaeu organized a "Tell the Truth" campaign encouraging Belarusians to speak out about social problems and record instances when government officials give "false" information to the public.

Nyaklyaeu, 63, said the initiative group for his support in running for president would consist of some 1,000 people and would meet despite Minsk authorities' refusal to provide a site.

Nyaklyaeu warned that if government officials were to steal an electoral victory from him in December's poll, his supporters would hold mass protests on Minsk's central square.

In May, police raided "Tell the Truth" campaign offices as well as the homes of dozens of the initiative's activists.

Renowned poets Ryhor Baradulin and Henadz Burawkin, artist Zinaida Bandarenka, Chornobyl researcher Henadz Hrushavy, scientist Radzim Haretski, Belarusian Association of Journalists head Zhanna Litvina, human rights activist Tatsyana Pratsko, and chessmaster Viktar Kupreychyk have given their support to the "Tell the Truth" campaign.

Nyaklyaeu read his poem "I Came So That You Win!," suggesting it might serve as his campaign slogan.