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Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on wanted list in Belarus, Russia

October 16, 2020

Belarus and Russia have added opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to their wanted lists on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.

Litauen | Demonstration in Vilnius | Solidarität mit Belarus | Swjatlana Zichanouskaja
Image: Zygimantas Gedvila/Scanpix/Imago Images

Belarus put opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on its most-wanted list for alleged calls to overthrow the constitutional order, the Russian interior minister told RIA news on Friday.

In accordance with a regional bloc agreement, Tsikhanouskaya later also appeared on Russia's wanted list.

The opposition leader fled to neighboring Lithuania shortly after the disputed election in Belarus on August 9. She has since met with European leaders and called for President Alexander Lukashenko to step down. On Tuesday she set a deadline of October 25, threatening nationwide strikes if it was not met.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (center) sits with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell in Brussels
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (center) sits with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell in BrusselsImage: Stephanie Lecocq/picture-alliance/AP Photo

Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne met with Tsikhanouskaya on Friday afternoon at the end of his European tour. "Canada will always be on your side," he said after the meeting.

Anna Krasulina, a spokeswoman for Tsikhanouskaya, said that the move by Belarus "doesn't surprise anyone. It's clear the regime has no legal ways of retaining power."

An unexpected leader

Tsikhanouskaya stepped forward as the leader of the opposition challenging the president in the last elections after her husband, who had originally intended to take that role, was arrested and charged with taking part in an unauthorized demonstration.

Read more: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: The teacher challenging Lukashenko — Europe's last dictator

When her husband was formally disqualified from running, she took up the mantle and quickly got the 100,000 signatures required to be on the ballot.

Protests erupted following the election which the president claimed to have won, but which have been disputed by other groups. Other opposition leaders have been arrested or left the country.

Around 13,000 people were arrested during the crackdown against protests, some were later released.

ab/rc (Reuters)