8 May 2020 22:59

Belarusian ex-statesman and businessman says intends to run for president

MINSK. May 8 (Interfax) - Valery Tsepkalo, the initiator and founder of the Belarusian High Technology Park and a former Belarusian diplomat, has declared his desire to run for president.

"I have decided to run for the post of president of the Republic of Belarus. I have enough of both managerial and personal experience for this. Having credible connections in political and business quarters in various countries, I will be able to put them to use for the good of the Belarusian people," Tsepkalo said on Facebook.

Tsepkalo said that, by setting up the High Technology Park, he "has shown Belarus and the whole world that our people can be as intelligent, creative, and enterprising as Americans, Britons, Japanese, Koreans, and other successful nations on the globe," he said.

In explaining why he decided to run for president, Tsepkalo said, "the world has seen a revolution," whereby "primitive top-down administrative systems have been replaced by new methods of organization of a state and society based on partnership, cooperation, and horizontal interaction."

"This revolution has passed by Belarus. Moreover, the country has been moving in the opposite direction for more than a quarter of a century. Nepotism and neo-feudal relations have been established in the country, where various forms of capricious, unceremonious, and rude attitudes are possible toward those who are lower on the social ladder," he said.

The Belarusian political establishment is not focused on addressing "problems of tomorrow," Tsepkalo said. "Instead of this, we are busy with pointless 'battles for the harvest', 'modernization' of the wood processing and cement industries, the rescuing of a worsted mill or a cellulose factory, visiting pig and cattle farms, and fighting 'parasites' and 'freeloaders'. Colossal efforts, money, time, and energy are wasted on this," he said.

As an alternative, Tsepkalo proposed turning Belarus into a country "where people have rights of ownership - such as ownership of land of their ancestors, plants, enterprises, or factories," "where there is an independent parliament expressing the opinion of its voters," "where the judiciary is independent," and "where the best infrastructure meeting international standards exists for our people to live, study, work, and vacate."

Tsepkalo served as Belarusian ambassador to the United States and Mexico from February 1997 to April 2002. He worked as director of the High Technology Park from October 2005 to March 2017.

As was reported earlier, the House of Representatives of the Belarusian National Assembly decided at an extraordinary session on Friday to set presidential elections in Belarus for August 9.

The previous presidential elections in Belarus were held on October 11, 2015. Voter turnout was 86.75%, and Alexander Lukashenko won them with 83.5% of the vote. Lukashenko has been president of Belarus since 1994.