‘We’d rather watch hell freeze’: Lithuanian FM rebuffs request to extradite Tsikhanouskaya

On March 5, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis commented on the request to deliver opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya to the Belarusian authorities.

“Lithuania has been and will be a wall behind which all the democratic forces that are persecuted by regimes can seek refuge. Therefore, everyone who finds refuge in Lithuania can feel safe that they will not be extradited to regimes – neither for their struggle for democracy, nor freedom of expression and religious views. Thus, we can tell the Belarusian regime that we would rather watch hell freeze over than consider its demands,” the top diplomat said.

As reported earlier, Belarus’ Prosecutor General sent a request to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Lithuania, demanding the extradition of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya over ‘crimes against public safety and the state’.

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’.

Belarus authorities seek extradition of Tsikhanouskaya, announce trial of her aides

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.

Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya tells about family, faith and politics in exclusive interview with Belsat TV