Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya fleed Belarus after large police crackdown on anti-government protests. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya initially rejected the results of the election, which led to her supporters taking to the streets. The official results showed the current president Alexander Lukashenko winning his sixth term in a landslide. Many Belarusian people felt that the election was rigged so they took to the streets.
Belarus President Lukashenko: Last Dictator of Europe
Thousands of protestors were met with harsh police crackdowns in Minsk and other Belarusian cities for now two straight nights. The protests have led to hundreds of injuries among the protestors and one death. The opposition leader who initially denounced the election results thus sparking the protests has now called for peace. She fled to Lithuania for the time being for the fear of her life and her kids. While Belarus is technically a democratic country, it has been run by “the last dictator of Europe” since the inception of the country. There is credible reason of retribution against Sviatlana as her husband has was jailed in May for opposing the government.
“It’s very difficult to resist pressure when your family and all your inner circle have been taken hostages,” said Maria Kolesnikova, a top figure in Tsikhanouskaya’s campaign.
Fleeing for her Life
Even though the protests continue, she is now calling for peace. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya ran for president after her husband who ran an opposition blog was arrested in May. Sviatlana united many opposition groups together and had huge rallies. After the election, exit polls showed her winning as well as some leaked documents of the vote count that showed her ahead by a great length. These leaks and polls is what led the people to believe “Dictator” Lukashenko rigged the election. Before fleeing Belarus, she submitted a formal request for a recount with the Central Election Commission. She also made an appearance where she read from a paper saying, “Belarusians, I’m urging you to show common sense and respect for the law…I don’t want blood and violence. I’m asking you not to confront the police and not take to squares to put your lives in danger. Take care of yourselves and your relatives.” Many speculate that the authorities forced her to read this prepared statement. Since arriving in Lithuania, she has apologized to her supporters for fleeing the country, stating she did it to be safe as many of her aides are still under custody.
Even though Sviatlana fled the country, the anti-government protestors vow to keep going. On Monday and Tuesday more than 5,000 people were detained for taking part in the protests. As the protests continue the government is increasing its strength and effort to curb anything that would challenge Lukashenko’s regime. The U.S. and EU both condemn the election and the police crackdowns. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the election wasn’t “fair and free” whilst also condemning the detention and violence against protestors.