Stay-at-home-mother Svetlana Tikhanovskaya never had presidential ambitions.
But in a tale worthy of a Hollywood script, in a matter of weeks the 37-year-old has gone from an unknown to the strongest rival to Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko, who is seeking a sixth term in the August 9 poll.
Tikhanovskaya says she is contesting the election to get her jailed blogger husband out of prison and win much-needed freedom for the ex-Soviet country of 9.5 million people.
“I love my husband very much so I am continuing what he started,” she said.
“I love Belarusians and I want to give them an opportunity to have a choice.”
Tikhanovskaya, an English teacher by training, only made the decision to stand for president in May.
Her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky — a popular 41-year-old YouTube blogger — had been detained and could not submit his own presidential bid in time.
The electoral commission allowed