17 October, Brussels: The European Endowment for Democracy (EED) with information support by the Office for a Democratic Belarus (ODB) hosted an event for the People’s Referendum Coalition from Belarus. Four Belarus movement leaders (“Tell the Truth” leader, Uladzimir Niakliaeu and Vice-Chairman Andrey Dzmitryeu, Movement's “For Freedom” Vice-Chairman Yury Hubarevich and Belarusian Popular Front’s Chairman Alaksej Janukevich) presented the “People’s Referendum” initiative.

The debate focused on political developments in Belarus and plans ahead of upcoming elections. The event was attended by representatives of the EU Institutions, Brussels-based think-tanks and NGOs working with Belarus and the region. In the next three years, Belarus will hold three different elections: local election in 2014, presidential election in 2015 and parliamentary election in 2016. Some opinion polls have indicated that there is a “new majority” - Belarusians who neither support the current president, nor vote for the political opposition. The main challenge for the opposition is how to attract and involve these individuals in Belarus politics and elections.

"The Belarusian state does not respect its people, we have been taken out of decision making processes, and as a result the lives of ordinary Belarusian families have worsened.  The People’s Referendum initiative is our way to unify the “new majority” in the country and build a reliable state that will respect us and protect the interest of our families. It is time to show that the majority want things to be done differently. We will collect 500,000 signatures, knock at more than 1.5 million doors. Together the citizens of Belarus can restore respect and a build a better future!” declared Uladzimir Niakliaeu outlining the initiative’s goals.

The “People’s Referendum” aims to bring different Belarusians together around simple ideas to improve the lives of Belarusians and build trust in the future. The movement has already reached 3,000 citizens in 30 towns, and 1,500 by telephone, and collected over 10,000 questionnaires. Opinion polls indicate that 52% of Belarusians believe that such a movement is needed. The initiative is backed by 40 regional NGOs.

Yury Hubarevich, representing “For Freedom” underlined the campaign’s unifying vision: “The “People’s Referendum” is an opportunity for everyone to work together and build a better Belarus that respects citizens and protects their interests. I believe in the Referendum because I believe in our people and I believe in Belarus."

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