Tag Archives: Svetlana Tikhanovskaya

SAKHAROV 2020: Belarus democratic opposition

Brussels 22.10.2020 The democratic opposition in Belarus has been awarded the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. (Image: riot police in Minsk, Belarus, attacking peaceful demonstrators, source: social media).

European Parliament President David Sassoli announced the laureates in the Brussels plenary chamber at noon on Thursday, following an earlier decision by the Conference of Presidents (President and political group leaders).

“Let me congratulate the representatives of the Belarusian opposition for their courage, resilience and determination. They have stood and still stay strong in the face of a much stronger adversary. But they have on their side something that brute force can never defeat – and this is the truth. So my message for you, dear laureates, is to stay strong and not to give up on your fight. Know that we are by your side”, President Sassoli said, following the decision.

“I would also like to add a word on the recent killing of one of this year’s finalists, Mr Arnold Joaquín Morazán Erazo, part of the Guapinol environmental group. The group is opposing an iron oxide mine in Honduras. It is imperative that a credible, independent and immediate investigation is launched into this case and those responsible must be held to account”, he added.

Protesting against a brutal regime

The democratic opposition in Belarus is represented by the Coordination Council, an initiative of brave women, as well as prominent political and civil society figures. Read more about the laureates, as well as the other finalists here (Tweet below):

Belarus has been in the midst of a political crisis since the disputed presidential elections on 9 August, which led to an uprising against authoritarian President Aliaksandr Lukashenka and a subsequent brutal crackdown on demonstrators by the regime.

The Sakharov award ceremony will be held on 16 December.

On October 21, Parliament also adopted new recommendations calling for a comprehensive review of the EU’s relations with Belarus.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honour of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is 50 000 euros.

Last year, the prize was given to Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority.

Borrell meets Svetlana Tikhanovskaya

Brussels, 21.09.2020 Ahead of the Foreign ministers Council the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell met with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the Belarus opposition politician in exile: “We met with Sviatlana #Tsikhanouskaya ahead of #FAC. The EU has no hidden agenda. Belarusian people should be able to freely choose their president, without persecution and repression. Only an inclusive national dialogue can lead to a peaceful and sustainable solution #Belarus” the head of the EU diplomacy wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

The situation in Belrus after the sham elections is one of three major issues for discussion with EU Foreign Ministers. The other key topics for the EU diplomacy are “positive momentum” in Libya and relations with the African Union.

MEPs CALL for new elections in Belarus

17.09.2020, Brussels. MEPs call for new presidential elections in Belarus and urge the EU to sanction President Lukashenko.

In a resolution adopted by 574 votes in favour, 37 against with 82 abstentions on Septembere 17, the European Parliament rejects the official results of the “so-called presidential elections” in Belarus on 9 August this year, as these elections were conducted in a “flagrant violation of all internationally recognised standards”. Once the term of office for the incumbent authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko expires on 5 November, Parliament will no longer recognise him as the president of the country.

In the meantime, MEPs welcome the recently established Coordination Council as an “interim representation of the people demanding democratic change” in Belarus that is open to all political and social stakeholders. They also reiterate the many calls for new, free and fair elections to take place as soon as possible under international supervision.

MEPs call for EU sanctions against the group of individuals responsible for falsifying the election results and for the violent repression in Belarus, including President Lukashenko, and call on EU member states in the Council to implement these restrictive measures without delay, in close coordination with international partners.

MEPs also staunchly condemn the mass arrests and ongoing violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, strike leaders and journalists in the country, with many reports of ill-treatment, rape and torture emerging from
Belarusian detention centres and jails.

The resolution finally underlines the important contribution made by prominent female opposition members, led by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Veranika Tsapkala and Maria Kalesnikova, during the protests. It demands the immediate release of the arrested members of the Coordination Council and all those arbitrarily detained for political reasons.
The text notes that many Belarusians consider Tikhanovskaya to be the winner of the presidential elections and Belarus’ real president-elect.

Lukashenko in whirlwind of political crisis

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is Europe’s longest-serving ruler and the 65-year-old former Soviet collective farm chairman now wants a sixth term as president.
But in the run-up to the 9 August presidential election he has faced the biggest opposition protests for a decade.

“An authoritarian style of rule is characteristic of me, and I have always admitted it,” he said in August 2003. “You need to control the country, and the main thing is not to ruin people’s lives.”

There have been hundreds of arrests in a wave of demonstrations since May.

Lukashenko has been in power since 1994, with an authoritarian style reminiscent of the Soviet era, controlling the main media channels, harassing and jailing political opponents and marginalising independent voices.

The powerful secret police – still called the KGB – closely monitors dissidents.
On 30 July tens of thousands rallied in the capital Minsk in support of political novice Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, now his main rival.

She stepped in to challenge Mr Lukashenko after her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky, a popular blogger, was firstly barred from running for presidency and then sent to jail.

A referendum in 2004 lifted the two-term limit on presidents, paving way for Lukashenko to stay life-long President of Belarus.
Lukashenko is self-made man from humble origins raised by a single mother in a poor village in eastern Belarus.
He is married to Galina Lukashenko, with whom he has two adult sons, Viktor and Dmitry, however she has been always out of public life. In spite of the fact of being separated for decades, he told an interviewer in 2015 that he had no intention of divorcing Galina.
He has a third son, Nikolai (Kolya), born in 2004, whose mother Irina Abelskaya was Mr Lukashenko’s personal doctor. It is still unclear if the mother has un opportunity to see her son, there is a predomiant public opinon among Belorussians that Abelskaya was denied any contacts with the boy. The child has been exposed to public to such an extend that many analysts suggested Lukashenko aims to restore monarchy and pass the presidency to his youngest son.

However recently in an interview to the Ukrainain press Lukashenko has denied his allegations and said that he did not with to see his youngest son Nikolai as president and is not preparing him to be his successor.

Answering the reporter’s question whether he would like Nikolai to assume the office of president, Lukashenko said, “No, no. My Kolya is unlikely to ever be president.”

In his address to the parliament which lasted exactly one and a half hours, Lukashenko covered the essence his entire election program.

The President promised not to allow a return to the “dashing 90s”, insisted on absence of alternative to evolutionary (on contrary to revolutionary) development, exposed the incompetence of opponents and urged against expecting «miracles».

At the same time, he paid a lot of attention to Russia: in particular, he made it clear that fraternal relations were in the past – and through the fault of Moscow, not Minsk.

Russia has always been, is and will be our closest ally, no matter who is in power in Belarus or Russia. This is an overwhelming factor. It is deep within our peoples. This is deep within our peoples, even though Russia has exchanged fraternal relations with us for partnerships. In vain! “ Lukahsenko underlined.

Talking about the rival candidates the President said: “Found these three unfortunate girls (the joint opposition headquarters: Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Veronika Tsepkalo, Maria Kolesnikova). They don’t understand what they are reading. What are you writing to them? “

“Let’s hold unfair elections, release economic, political, drug addicts, criminals, hold fair elections and live”.

“But at least tell them that it is not the president in Belarus who calls the elections. That after the unfair elections the Belarusian parliament will never plunge the country into a series of election campaigns and will not appoint the next elections. Think about it at least. What are you writing to them? They don’t understand what they are saying and what they are doing. But we see who is behind them.”