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Belarus: Tsikhanouskaya calls on security forces to revolt

August 17, 2020

Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya says Belarus should create a legal framework for a new fair election. She also called on security forces to switch sides from President Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addresses the nation in an unknown location in Lithuania
Image: Reuters/Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Headquarters

The main Belarusian opposition figure, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, on Monday said she was ready to lead the nation, as tens of thousands continued protests against the contested reelection of long-time ruler Alexander Lukashenko just over a week ago.

Speaking in a video address from Lithuania, where she fled following the August 9 election, Tsikhanouskaya called for the creation of a legal framework to allow such new elections to be held. She has already proposed setting up a "coordination council" to ensure a peaceful transfer of power.

"I did not want to be a politician. But fate decreed that I'd find myself on the frontline of a confrontation against arbitrary rule and injustice," she said. "I am ready to take responsibility and act as a national leader during this period."

Read more:Optimism for Belarus 'is now gone' — Norway's top diplomat 

Sviatlana Tikhanouvskaya
Tikhanouvskaya was a teacher before turning politicianImage: picture alliance/AP Photo

Allegations of brutality

In her speech, she also urged security and law enforcement officers to switch allegiance from Lukashenko's government, adding that they would be pardoned for their past actions if they did so now.

Opponents of Lukashenko have said they intend to launch legal action against security forces for alleged brutal treatment of peaceful protesters. At least two protesters are reported to have been killed, and some 7,000 were arrested and detained.

Footage and photos have shown many of those who have been since released as bearing signs of injuries or possible torture. But authorities have rejected all accusations that security forces have used undue force at protests.

There have been ongoing protests in the country since Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, was reelected to a sixth term in polls slammed as fraudulent by the opposition. The election commission gave the president 80% of the vote compared to 10% for his nearest rival, Tsikhanouskaya.

Poland watchful

Poland has meanwhile said it was monitoring its border with Belarus amid the unrest there.

"We are looking at what is happening in Belarus, just like all NATO countries,  and we will also look at what happens at our borders. We will not be passive in this observation," Deputy Defense Minister Wojciech Skurkiewicz told public radio.

NATO has rejected Lukashenko's allegations that it was building up troops near Belarus' western border, but said it was observing the situation in the country closely.

On Friday, EU foreign ministers agree to reimpose sanctions on the administration in Minsk.

tj/aw (Reuters, AFP, dpa)