Former Belarusian presidential candidate flees to Poland

Valery Tsapkala, a disallowed Belarusian presidential candidate, and his wife Veronika, who was a member of staff of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Alexander Lukashenko’s main presidential rival, arrived in Poland on Tuesday evening.

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The couple came to Poland from the Ukranian capital Kiev. They were welcomed by Michał Szczerba, an MP from Civic Platform. On Thursday Ms Tsapkala is scheduled to meet Tomasz Grodzki, the speaker of Polish Senate, the upper house of the parliament.

Mr Tsapkala told Russian independent radio “Moscow Echo” that Warsaw will be their temporary place of residence.

On Saturday Russian media reported that he was accused of accepting a bribe. He left Belarus on July 24 after receiving reports that he might face prosecution, and remained for some time in Moscow. He also visited Ukraine twice .

Mr Tsapkala announced on Wednesday the creation of the “National Front for the Salvation of the Republic of Belarus” against “violating constitution and armed takeover of power by [president Alexander] Lukashenko.”

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Valery Tsapkala is a Belarusian politician, diplomat and entrepreneur. He served as an ambassador to the US and Mexico and headed (2005-2017) the Belarus Hi-Tech Park for 12 years, which became the largest IT cluster in Central and Eastern Europe during that period. Between the years 2002-2005 he was an advisor of Alexander Lukashenko.

In May 2020 he announced his candidacy for the post of Belarusian president. However, the Central Electoral Commission declared that he did not submit enough valid signatures – they approved only 75,000 from more than 160,000 that he had submitted, while at least 100,000 were necessary.

He also sent a letter to Vladimir Putin calling him not to support Mr Lukashenko’s regime. “Russia has always supported Lukashenko. The sense of the letter was to [convince them] not to do it this time. He drives a wedge between Russia and Belarus,” he told the website Belsat, an independent television channel operating via the support of Poland’s public broadcaster TVP.

He also sent his letter to more than 30 leaders from various countries.