Aliaksandr Milinkevich - 2006, Belarus
Milinkevich, a scientist, was chosen to be the joint presidential candidate of the United Democratic Opposition in October 2005. Urging a truly democratic future for Belarus, Milinkevich presented himself as a genuine alternative to the authoritarianism of President Lukashenko, whose victory was criticised by the opposition in Belarus and abroad for vote-rigging. After contesting the electoral results, Milinkevich was arrested under various pretexts, but no charges were ever brought against him.
Milinkevich did not stand for the presidential elections in 2010, as he considered that no changes had been made to the national electoral regulations in order to ensure fair, free and open elections. Milinkevich denounced the further deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus after this vote, which confirmed Lukashenko's hold on power.
As a Sakharov Prize laureate and a leader of the opposition, Milinkevich is regularly consulted by parliamentary bodies concerned with Belarus, and has participated in Sakharov Prize Network events and conferences, and public debates. In a Sakharov Prize Network debate in Lithuania with Berta Soler of the Damas de Blanco, national authorities, MEPs and members of the Lithuanian parliament, Milinkevich denounced the incessant intimidation and humiliation perpetrated by the authorities against human rights defenders in Belarus. He declared his support for greater European integration for Belarus, and for a critical and constructive dialogue with the Belarusian authorities.
Dialogue was a key element of Milinkevich's interventions during public network debates and hearings at the European Parliament. He urges greater EU engagement with Belarus in order to secure more freedoms for its people. Milinkevich posits that Belarus's need for economic assistance could be used as leverage to force the country into dialogue with the EU, including on human rights.
As Belarus headed towards its fifth post-Soviet presidential election in October 2015, Milinkevich declared that he, or preferably a younger politician, should stand in the elections to challenge Lukashenko's hold on power. However, in April 2015 he decided not to run in these elections and not to support any candidate. In 2017, he registered the Free Belarus University fund in Warsaw, with the aim of creating a higher-education institution that will support new generations of free Belarusians.