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Belarusian Authorities' Crime 'Will Not Be Erased From Memory,' Says Opposition Leader

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Belarusian Authorities' Crime 'Will Not Be Erased From Memory,' Says Opposition Leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya

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8/28/20
VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Now in its 19th day, Belarus's political crisis has slipped toward a potentially more dangerous phase with President Vladimir Putin signaling the possibility of deploying a Russian security force to help buttress Alyaksandr Lukashenka's grip on power. Deploying Russian forces in her country would be a mistake, said Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the self-exiled former presidential candidate who has become an unlikely leader of the Belarusian opposition. "This is our internal problem, an internal issue that Belarusians must resolve with the Belarusian government," Tsikhanouskaya told RFE/RL. Tsikhanouskaya spoke with RFE/RL on August 28 from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, where she fled amid threats to her family. Her husband Syarhey, a potential challenger to Lukashenka in the August 9 presidential election, had been arrested before the vote and remains in police custody, reportedly in a jail on Minsk's outskirts. A proficient English speaker who previously was a stay-at-home mother, Tsikhanouskaya took up the mantle from her husband after he was jailed.

In towns and cities across Belarus, the streets have been packed with tens of thousands of protesters – and possibly hundreds of thousands at the largest gathering in Minsk. The outpouring of opposition has become the biggest challenge to Lukashenka's 26-year rule. In her RFE/RL interview, Tsikhanouskaya again called for Lukashenka to step aside, calling it a "worthy" decision to close out his tenure. "It would be very worthy for him to be just the first president, who ruled for a long time and then resigned at the request of the people, and not to turn his departure into bloody massacres, not to cause hatred of his people," she said. While defying the popular calls for a new election that is free and fair, Lukashenka has also signaled the possibility of a harsher approach toward demonstrators.

Rather than a president, Lukashenka is a coarse dictator and I have always referred to him as such.

Related: Detained Journalists In Belarus Face Charges For Covering Post-election Protests
 
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