Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Belarus Demands Extradition of Opposition Leader Tikhanovskaya

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. EPA / TASS

Belarus said on Friday it had requested the extradition of exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was forced from the country during a crackdown on critics of leader Alexander Lukashenko.

Tikhanovskaya, who challenged Lukashenko in last year's presidential vote that the opposition said was rigged, sought refuge in EU member Lithuania as the crackdown intensified on anti-government demonstrations in her home country.

The Belarus General Prosecutor's Office said on Friday it had requested that Lithuania extradite her "to face prosecution for crimes against the governing order, public safety and the state."

Investigators said this week that Tikhanovskaya, who stood in the August vote in place of her jailed husband, had planned with associates to instigate riots and capture government buildings in the second city Gomel.

Tikhanovskaya has dismissed the claims.

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis responded that his country "has been and will be a brick wall behind which all democratic forces persecuted by regimes will find refugee."

"We can say only one thing to the Belarusian regime: hell will first have to freeze over before we consider your requests," he said.

In a post on Twitter, Tikhanovskaya thanked Landsbergis "for not only standing up against Lukashenko's regime but also sending a clear message that Lithuania strongly supports Belarusians".

EU sanctions

Journalists and rights defenders are facing a slew of legal cases, which have been condemned by international advocacy groups.

Dozens of media and rights workers had their homes and offices searched last month and several journalists were recently handed jail terms after reporting on the protests and the opposition crackdown.

Thousands were detained at spontaneous protests that followed Lukashenko's claim to a landslide victory and a sixth term in the August vote.

In exile, Tikhanovskaya been meeting EU leaders and representatives of Western countries. She was expected in Geneva this weekend.

The European Union has slapped sanctions on Lukashenko and his allies but the long-standing Belarus leader has strong support from Moscow and has refused to step down. 

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more