Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka of treason for his involvement in the Ukrainian invasion and has declared herself the new leader of her country.
Tsikhanouskaya, 39, is the opposition leader to Lukashenka who attempted to win the presidency in the 2020 election following the arrest of her husband, Siarhei Tsikhanouski. Her failed bid as an independent candidate in the disputed election sent her fleeing in exile to Lithuania where she has lived since, Deutsche Welle reported.
“We didn’t expect this war would happen,” Tsikhanouskaya said. “We didn’t believe in this… Putin partnered with [Lukashenka] and attacked Ukraine. And this is the price Lukashenka is paying for Kremlin’s support in 2020, which allowed Lukashenka to stay in power.”
Since this conversation, Tsikhanouskaya has released a statement declaring herself the leader of Belarus.
Lukashenka committed treason – he made our country a participant in the invasion of Ukraine. So I declared myself as the national leader of Belarus to protect the sovereignty & independence of our country, represent it in security negotiations & crisis management in the region. pic.twitter.com/IyQ0YOM7Kf
— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) February 26, 2022
“On behalf of Belarusians and Belarus, I want to emphasize that we support and stand in solidarity with the people and government of Ukraine,” Tsikhanouskaya began her statement.
Referring to Lukashenka’s government as the regime, Tsikhanouskaya remarked how this pivotal time in Europe had been facilitated by Lukashenka providing “infrastructure and land for the invasion.”
Tsikhanouskaya touched on the need for the international community to treat Belarus as a non-aggressor and independent nation from Russia that had used the northern border of Ukraine to support the invasion. Russian troops had already been poised in the region undergoing military exercises, RadioFreeEurope reported.
As Belarus has been offering Russia the use of fueling stations, air defense and air traffic control systems, Tsikhanouskaya reminded Belarusian military forces that they do not need to follow orders from Lukashenka because he has committed high treason.
“So I announced that I am taking on the responsibility as the national leader of Belarus and will create a transitional cabinet,” Tsikhanouskaya declared. “My goal is to protect the sovereignty and independence of our country and to represent our state in security negotiations and crisis management in the region.”
“And our joint aim is to stop the war and the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine, Belarus, and all of Europe,” Tsikhanouskaya concluded.
Tsikhanouskaya has been viewed by her opposition party and Western leaders as the legal winner of the 2020 election. President Biden spoke out in support of Tsikhanouskaya in 2021.
“Rather than respect the clear will of the Belarusian people, the Lukashenka regime perpetrated election fraud, followed by a brutal campaign of repression to stifle dissent,” Biden’s statement said in part. “From detaining thousands of peaceful protesters to imprisoning more than 500 activists…the actions of the Lukashenka regime are an illegitimate effort to hold on to power at any price.”
“It is the responsibility of all those who care about human rights, free and fair elections, and freedoms of expression to stand against this oppression…Toward that end, today, we are issuing a new Executive Order that enhances our ability to impose costs on the regime and announcing new sanctions against Belarusian individuals and entities for their role in attacks on democracy and human rights, transnational repression, and corruption,” the statement went on.
“As I told the leader of Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, we stand with the people of Belarus as they have bravely pursued their democratic aspirations,” he concluded.
Those remarks from August 2021 add further weight to former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler’s assessment of Biden’s go-to foreign policy strategy. On Russia, Koffler said, “Unfortunately, the one-trick pony that President Biden has which is sanctions has no tricks because Putin has sanction-proofed his economy for a long time.”
Lukashenka is believed to have manufactured a migrant crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus in response to the sanctions, continuing the assessment that Biden has done little to deter these kinds of human rights and international law violations since taking office.
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