On Friday, Alyaksandr Lukashenka has given his version of his election opponent Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s departure to Lithuania.
According to Lukashenka, it is the ex-presidential candidate Tsikhanouskaya who asked the Belarusian authorities to help her leave for the neighbouring state.
“That citizen of Belarus and housewife Tsikhanouskaya has forgotten that the president of Belarus saved her. The [adversaries’] plan was to set the [opposition] headquarters on fire and blame the authorities for it,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes him.
Being eager to ‘prevent a disaster’, he instructed the then KGB chairman Valery Vakulchyk to ‘withdraw the most combative unit from the streets and get the opposition headquarters under control’; 120 security officers were involved in the operation, Lukashenka claims.
In his telling, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya met with Interior Minister Yury Karayeu and begged: “Please tell the president that I want to leave Belarus: there is trouble brewing.”
In accordance with his version, when Tsikhanouskaya said she had no money to live abroad, Lukashenka ordered to give her $15,000: “She was weeping on my breast and said ‘thank you so much’. We took her out of the country.”
“This sacred sacrifice did not happen, but what if it did? No one pushed her outside the country. It was a matter of life and death, and it was her wish,” Lukashenka added.
According to the Belarusian Central Election Commission, 80.1% of voters supported Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the 2020 presidential election. Belarusian officials state that his strongest rival Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya got 10.12% of votes. However, on the back of announcing the results of the official exit polls, Belarusians started to take to the streets, claiming that their votes were stolen.
In the wake of the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters, Tsikhanoгskaya 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). Another member, strike movement activist Syarhei Dyleuski, was released on September, 18 after spending 25 days in prison. Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya was also compelled to leave Belarus; now she is staying in Vilnius.