On March 18, Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya announced the beginning of a nationwide voting. Her office is set to push Alyaksandr Lukashenka into holding negotiations with numerous opponents and dissidents.
She called Belarusians for registering in the voting system Holas (Vote) which enjoys the confidence of the EU, the US, the OSCE, other countries and international organisations:
“Each of you knows that our country is in a crisis. And we can meet it peacefully – through negotiations, through international mediation.”
I, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader elected by the people of Belarus, announce the beginning of nationwide voting. Each of you knows that our country is in crisis. We can resolve it peacefully — by means of internationally mediated negotiations. https://t.co/akLFRcFFjA
— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) March 18, 2021
The would-be voting should side with the street protests, not replace them, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya stressed.
“We opt for non-violent protests and a fair voting, not [resorting to] weapons. And the more our votes are, the louder our demand to overcome the crisis peacefully and victimlessly sounds for the whole world. After all, a voting for negotiations is a voting for saving hundreds of prisoners who are suffering in jails just for their civic stand. It is a step towards a state where people and their views are respected, where one has decent salaries and just prices. And what is very important, it is a strong call for action being addressed to international partners,” she said.
According to the politician, the split within those in power in Belarus is growing; the voting is being launched in order to start talks with ‘the representatives of the regime who are ready to think about the future and make deliberate decisions rather than turn the crisis into a complete catastrophe’.
The negotiations are to take place with the participation of high-profile international mediators, the team added.
Over 250,000 persons have voted on the online platform since the address was made on Tsikhanouskaya’s Youtube channel on Thursday morning.
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 belarusian 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.
Lately, the Prosecutor General has 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 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’.