Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarusian opposition candidate who supporters say won a presidential election that was instead stolen by long-ruling strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka, has begun creating a shadow cabinet as she takes refuge in neighboring Lithuania.
Tsikhanouskaya's aides said on an opposition Telegram channel on September 30 that well-known human rights lawyer Hary Pahanyayla, who has defended many prominent right activists and journalists in Belarus, is Tsikhanouskaya's representative on human rights issues, while economic expert Ales Alyakhnovich was appointed as her representative on economic reforms.
The statement also cites Tsikhanouskaya as saying that "Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime is not just illegitimate, but also is not capable of carrying out its duties."
Crisis In Belarus
Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka continues his brutal crackdown on NGOs, activists, and independent media following the August 2020 presidential election, widely seen as fraudulent.
"We cannot remain inactive anymore and watch how the country is further drowning in a crisis. That is why, in order to secure a new election, I continue my activities to unite all democratic forces of Belarusian society," Tsikhanouskaya said a day after she held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Vilnius.
Tsikhanouskaya fled to Lithuania amid a crackdown on protesters and media by Lukashenka, who has refused to admit defeat in the August 9 presidential vote.
Lukashenka had himself secretly sworn in on September 23, sparking further outrage at home and abroad.
Western governments have refused to recognize Lukashenka, who has refused to negotiate with the opposition, as the legitimate leader of Belarus and have called on him to peacefully transfer power.
Protesters have demanded Lukashenka's resignation since electoral officials announced him the winner with just over 80 percent of the vote.
Opposition leaders, including Tsikhanouskaya, have formed a Coordination Council to facilitate the transfer of power.
Tsikhanouskaya ran for president in place of her husband, who had been arrested prior to the election.
She said she would hold a new presidential election upon taking power.