Updated at 19:04,01-02-2023

Afro-Belarusian, Gay And Miss Europe. Who Are Candidates To Belarus’ Parliament?

TUT.BY / BelarusFeed

Parliamentary elections in Belarus will take place on 14 November. Today, 531 people claim 110 seats in the Oval Hall of the Government House. Who are they?

There are senior officials, pensioners, the unemployed, two IT specialists and one student. Over the next four years, these people will consider and adopt bills that will affect the life of Belarusians.

Young people – 53 people under the age of 30 – are seeking seats in the House of Representatives too. Among them are Miss World Europe 2018 Maria Vasilevich, 22, LGBT activist Valentin Tishko, 30, and Afro-Belarusian Alana Gebremariam, 22.

Why did they decide to run for parliament and what do they stand for? Maria runs on her own, Alana and Valentin are the representatives of parties – all three has a separate message and agenda.

Alana Gebremariam

Alana agrees to an interview only on the condition that there will be no questions about discrimination by skin colour. The young woman explains that she is tired of answering these questions.

She registered for the elections as a member of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party but ideologically runs for parliament from the youth bloc.

“In fact, I know how the elections in Belarus work, I’ve been interested in this for years. Therefore, it is more awareness-raising campaign, we (the youth bloc) decided ‘If we don’t promote the bills we have prepared, who will?’. We decided that only the youth can speak for the youth, and we had to do that – to run for parliament.

Even if people don’t choose us, we will lobby for these documents through new deputies and other mechanisms.

For me, this is a chance for young people to be heard and influence the decisions and essential issues that are raised in a society. Authorities for some reason find it unimportant to listen to us, despite the young people are those who will take their place in 20 years and lead the country into the future. Yes, I don’t believe in the elections, but we will watch them and the way they are held.”

Valentin Tishko

While Maria and Alana are standing for the youth interests in parliament, Valentin is going to represent his home district of Molodechno and have no intentions to lobby LGBT issues.

“We all understand that the elections, in the ordinary sense of the word, don’t exist, it’s a game. The seats of Kanopatskaya and Anisim (the opposition candidates who were not registered for the parliamentary elections – BelarysFeed note) are vacant now. I fully understand that the voter’s voices will be counted as they need them to be counted, but Anisim-2 and Kanopatskya-2 will still have a seat in parliament.

Today Belarus has a lot at stake: the agreement with the EU and the return of the U.S. ambassador. Most likely, the official Minsk will continue to play in a democracy and the right to choose. The only question is, who gets to the place of the opposition candidates. This is where the opposition and its representatives have a problem – they run for the sake of participation, while one should run in order to get there.

Of course, my chance is equal to 0.15% of 1%, but it is there and you should keep this in mind.”

Maria Vasilevich

“I intend to ensure that the activities of parliament will become more open and public, and is ready to prove by own example that a frank dialogue with people will lead to the effective cooperation between people and authorities. The composition of the deputies must be diverse, not tied to a certain age, social status or gender.

The only thing that should unite deputies is a responsibility, fairness, and a genuine desire to make our life better.

The experience that already exists in the parliament should be complemented with fresh views of active and, most importantly, young people who care about the future of our country. It is the dialogue between different generations and different social groups that will allow passing laws that will take into account the interests of every Belarusian.”