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Tsikhanouskaya Asks OSCE To Help Ensure Lukashenka's Opponents Can Safely Return To Belarus

Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya (file photo)
Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya (file photo)

Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who left her country for Lithuania following a disputed presidential election that she and her supporters claim she won, has asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to assist her and other exiled opposition politicians to safely return home.

In a January 18 post on her website, Tsikhanouskaya said she made the request during an online meeting with European Union Ambassadors to the OSCE a day earlier.

"Together with the international community, I would like to find an opportunity to safely return to Belarus. Two criminal probes have been launched against me, and they also put my name on the international wanted list, so there must be special guarantees for my return," Tsikhanouskaya said at the meeting.

She added that the situation with the Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, who was immediately arrested upon his arrival to Moscow from Berlin over the weekend "shows that assistance from the international community, especially from the OSCE is essential" in this matter.

Results from Belarus's August election, which Lukashenka claims to have won, sparked mass protests, with Tsikhanouskaya’s supporters and opposition figures claiming she was the victor.

In the days following the vote, several opposition figures, including Tsikhanouskaya, left the country amid security fears.

Several protesters have been killed and thousands arrested during the ongoing mass demonstrations demanding Lukashenka's resignation. There have also been credible reports of torture during a widening security crackdown.

Tsikhanouskaya also proposed that the OSCE organize an inclusive dialogue to solve the ongoing crisis in Belarus by creating a contact group to start negotiations between representatives of the European Union, the Belarusian opposition, and Lukashenka, who has run Belarus since 1994.

Tsikhanouskaya reiterated her support for holding a new presidential election in Belarus, adding that "we are ready to hold the poll in 45 days."

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