Staunton, Dec. 28 – Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the Belarusian opposition now in emigration, says the West must not allow Vladimir Putin to annex Belarus as some kind of “consolation prize” after the Kremlin leader loses in Ukraine. “An independent Belarus is just as important for Europe as an independent Ukraine.”
In an interview with RFI’s Russian Service, she says she and her colleagues are constantly working to reinforce the understanding in the West that “Belarus is a constituent part of our common regional crisis and that one mustn’t save Ukraine and not save Belarus” (rfi.fr/ru/европа/20221227-светлана-тихановская-беларусь-не-должна-стать-утешительным-призом-для-москвы).
Today, all assistance is going to Ukraine, “and we completely support this … this is the primary task for all democratic countries but we declare that Belarus also needs your help. We do not ask the West … for arms. We ask for help and solidarity,” Tsikhanouskaya continues. “Don’t forget to talk about the importance of Belarus when you talk about Ukraine.”
“Don’t forget to say that not only the Kremlin is taking part in a war against Ukraine, the regime of Lukashenka is as well and he also must bear responsibility for this.” The war has allowed him to commit more crimes against the Belarusian people, half a million of whom have fled his repression.
Many Belarusians abroad are rapidly approaching a point at which their passports must be renewed. They don’t want to return to their homeland as long as Lukashenka is in power. Tsikhanouskaya says she is working to make arrangements with EU governments to have them give special documents to such people so that they can remain abroad and remain Belarusians.
She says she is also seeking to get a European country to set up a Foundation to help Political Prisoners. There are more than 1400 of them in Belarus. Such a foundation would both focus attention on their plight and help them upon their release.