Belarus Crisis: EU to Review Ties with ‚Europe’s Last Dictator‘ after His ‚Illegitimate‘ Election Win

Written by | Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

The main opposition candidate in Sunday’s disputed elections in Belarus, has fled her country as clashes between heavily armed police and demonstrators escalated during a second night of protests. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya had been detained by Belarusian authorities for seven hours after filing a complaint against vote-rigging before crossing the border towards morning, Lithuania’s foreign minister, Linas Linkevi?ius, told the media. “Now she’s in Lithuania, taking some rest, and we will see what are her further plans and intentions,” he said, adding he couldn’t reveal some details. In a video published on Tuesday (11 August), a visibly distressed Tikhanovskaya indicated she had faced an ultimatum by Belarus authorities. “God forbid you face the kind of face that I faced,” she said. “Children are the most important thing in our lives.”
According to Belarus’ election commission Tikhanovskaya took just 10.09% of the vote, while the longtime ruler, Alexander Lukashenko, won 80.08%. Lukashenko’s victory will mark a sixth term in office for the 65-year-old, who has ruled the former-Soviet nation with an iron hand for more than a quarter of a century. Belarus police fired water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades in a crackdown on protests that erupted on Sunday (9 August) after the became clear that President Alexander Lukashenko was set to claim another election win in the face of the biggest challenge in years to his grip on power. Nicknamed “Europe’s last dictator,” Lukasenko warned on Monday that he would not be afraid to continue using force on protesters – whom he dubbed “sheep”. He said that “we will not allow them to tear the country apart” as he went on to claim the opposition were being directed from the Czech Republic and Poland, along with possible help from Ukraine and Russia. Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek has denied Lukasenko’s claim that “they are directing the [opposition] headquarters where those sheep don’t understand what they want from them.”
Meanwhile, Andrius Kubilius, an MEP, Co-President of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly and former Prime Minister of Lithuania, urged the West in his Opinion piece published in Euroactive that it „must be prepared for the perspective of the illegitimate Lukashenko. Personal sanctions to those who stole the elections from the Belarusians is a necessary step. Concrete demands to the illegitimate Lukashenko must follow: return to Belarusians what you stole – freedom to political prisoners, allow for new free and fair elections. Until this is done – no financial support to Lukashenko’s authorities and their entourage, only direct support for civic organizations, communities and business, with no possibility for illegitimate authorities to participate in the distribution of the support.“

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