Belarus opposition leader Tsikhanouskaya says Lukashenko in weakening position
Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (pictured) has asked for harder sanctions against Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, saying he shares full responsibility for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Lukashenko became an accomplice of Putin in this war,” the exiled 2020 presidential candidate told the media in The Hague, in reference to the use of Belarus for the assault on Kyiv.
Since the February invasion, more political prisoners have been detained in Belarus, bringing the total to an estimated 4,000.
The invasion, which appears to have minimal pubic support in Belarus, has given the opposition a boost.
“Rallies are useless now because we lose active people. It is time for us to move instead to waging a partisan war,” Tsikhanouskaya told The Times this month.
“Many of their efforts are targeted at the Russian war effort: railway workers have sabotaged tracks and signalling equipment to stop trains carrying military supplies to Russian forces in Ukraine. The saboteurs’ exploits are shared on a dedicated channel on the secure messaging app Telegram. Another channel is used by those living near the border to post photographs of troop movements and other military data, which is then picked up by Ukrainian forces.”
The 39-year-old fled Belarus in 2020 after the presidential election that gave Lukashenko a sixth term as president with more than 80 per cent of the vote and was largely seen as rigged.
Tsikhanouskaya’s husband, Sergei, a prominent opposition figure who planned to stand against Lukashenko but was detained three months before the vote.
Lukashenko mocked her as “this little girl” who should stick to feeding her children.
Lukashenko, 67, and in power since 1994, said Belarus is unfairly labelled as an accomplice in the Ukraine war, saying Belarusian forces are not involved.
The EU and US have included Belarus in the heavy sanctions imposed on Russia.
Tsikhanouskaya called for tougher action.
“The sanctions should be the same in strength [as those imposed on Russia] but different structure because we don’t have so many oligarchs. All the economic power is in the hands of the state sector,” the former interpreter and teacher said.
“The fact that Belarusian troops did not enter Ukraine is not the merit of Lukashenko, it is the merit of soldiers themselves who don’t understand why we should fight against our brothers and sisters,” she said.
She said: “Lukashenko is in a very fragile and weak position. Much depends on the outcome of the war. If the Ukrainians win, as we think they will, it will make his regime much weaker, and there will be a moment when he will have no way out but to give up.”
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Picture credit: YouTube