Lithuania is not going to turn over opposition politician Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya to the Belarusian authorities, Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomenas said when reached by Deutsche Welle.
“I think the Belarusian leadership acutely understands that any request for the extradition of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya will be a purely performative act. Lithuania does not extradite people who face political persecution. Minsk knows perfectly well what our answer will be,” he said.
When asked whether the refusal could further complicate the relations between Vilnius and Minsk, the politician answered: “Our ambassador was called back for consultations in October, 2020. Lithuania is currently represented in Belarus by a charge d’affaires. It is hardly possible to tense official relations more.”
On March 2, the Belarusian Investigative Committee said that the documents necessary for making a request for the extradition of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya had been handed over to the Prosecutor General’s Office. According to the agency, the case against her four associates was completed and sent to court; the authorities accuse them of ‘preparation for mass riots’ and ‘preparation for seizing buildings’.
In the wake of the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters, Lukashenka’s strongest election opponent Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya initiated the creation of the Coordination Council (СС) as part of taking urgent measures to restore law and order in Belarus as well as to ensure the transfer of power in the country. Belarus’ Prosecutor General opened a criminal case over establishing the Council, naming it a ‘threat to national security’. The authorities believe the body aims at seizing power in Belarus.
The members of the CC board were jailed (Liliya Ulasava, Maryia Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak) or forced out of the country (Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova, Svyatlana Alexievich, Syarhei Dyleuski). Tsikhanouskaya was also compelled to leave Belarus; now she is staying in Vilnius.
In October, the Belarusian authorities put the politician on the interstate wanted list.
In late December, the Prosecutor General’s Office launched another criminal case against some CC members, including Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, over their allegedly setting up ‘an extremist group’, being in control of it, financing its activities.