On January 18, Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya held an online meeting with EU representatives in the OSCE. Her foreign affairs advisers Franak Vyachorka and Valery Kavaleuski joined the discussion.
Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya suggested that the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) take over staging a dialogue to resolve the crisis in Belarus. According to her, the first step might be holding a round-table conference with the involvement of of the EU delegates, democratic forces of Belarus, the opposition Coordination Council as well as pro-government officials.
During the meeting, the participants made mention of opposition politician Alexei Navalny‘s recent return to Russia. Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya called on international watchdogs to contribute to ensuring Belarusian democratic leaders’ safe return to their homeland. As reported earlier, Navalny was detained after arriving in Moscow from Berlin. He will remain behind bars until February 15.
“Together with world society, I would like to find opportunities to safely return to Belarus. Since two criminal cases ware launched against me and I was put on the interstate wanted list, there must be special guarantees of my return. The situation with Navalny has proved that it [opposition activists’ return] would require the help of the international community and, above all, that of the OSCE,” the politician believes.
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 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). Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya was also compelled to leave Belarus; now she is staying in Vilnius.