Conflicts & War

Tikhanovskaya: Russia must stop backing Lukashenko

Ignacio Ortega

Moscow, Aug 8 (EFE).- The exiled leader of the Belarusian opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has called on Russia to end its support for Belarus’ authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko.

In an interview with Efe on the eve of the anniversary of the outbreak of mass protests last year against fraudulent elections in her country, she also defended the opposition’s strategy of “peaceful resistance” to defeat the leader known as Europe’s last dictator of Europe.

“This crisis is not convenient for Russia, because Lukashenko is toxic to western countries. It’s very difficult for Russia to communicate with Western countries because of the situation in Belarus,” Tikhanovskaya said during a video call from Vilnius.

“But if Russia wants to play a constructive role in solving our crisis, they have to stop supporting Lukashenko. That’s it.”

The opposition leader, who has taken on a political role since her husband has been in prison for more than a year, is grateful to democratic countries for their support and non-recognition of Lukashenko’s re-election in the fraudulent presidential election of August 9, 2020, but dismissed the first round of sanctions as “more moral than effective”.

But everything changed in May, when Belarusian security forces diverted and grounded a passenger plane traveling from Athens to Vilnius to arrest opposition journalist Roman Protasevich.

“After the Ryanair flight hijacking, the EU imposed sectoral sanctions, and now I think the USA and UK are ready to join sectoral sanctions and create multiple points of pressure on the regime,” she said.

“At that moment (of the hijacking of the plane), democratic countries understood that the regime is threatening not only the Belarusian people but it is a threat to the international community and to international society. That’s why this incident attracted more attention and an adequate answer from the countries that were involved,” she said.

She said it is crucial that the democratic world stands in solidarity with the opposition in Belarus in its fight against a “cruel regime”, but warned that deposing Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, would not be easy.

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