Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya conducted an interview with The Guardian in which she pushed Belarusian citizens to keep opposing the tyrannical regime.
The presidential election that took place in Belarus last year was disputed and many countries have recognized the allegation of serious election fraud with regard to the results after Alexander Lukashenko claimed that he had won.
As The Wall Street Journal reported, “The U.S. and European Union applied financial sanctions to respond to the alleged election fraud, the escalation of serious human-rights violations and repression of civil society, in addition to other transgressions.”
“People were in a state of euphoria,” Tsikhanouskaya said about the feeling in the country a year ago when over 100,000 people came out to protest. “We also thought: look how many of us there are, there’s no chance the regime can remain in power. Probably we weren’t ready for this level of cruelty.”
“In the last year, he’s become more cruel and harsh because he understands that he’s lost the face of a strong leader,” Tsikhanouskaya said of Lukashenko, who became president in 1994. “Yes, he’s in power. But it’s due to violence. Not because of respect, nor love … He won’t be able to force people to love him.”
Tsikhanouskaya was pushed out of Belarus last year and now lives in Lithuania where she continues to attempt to get countries to oppose Lukashenko.
“It was hurtful for us that attention toward Belarus has fallen after these images of these beautiful demonstrations disappeared,” she said. “But then the capture of the [Ryanair] airplane brought new attention and the EU followed with the appropriate sanctions. And now I hope that the US and the UK will also join these sectoral sanctions. We’ll see what their move will be.”
“The regime is trying to scare people who are active outside of Belarus,” she said. “It’s an attempt to scare everyone. To scare us, to beat us down, and to be honest it has an effect on a lot of people. Why deny that? But Belarusians understand you cannot scare people forever.”
“I think that people have put too much responsibility on me,” she said. “People are forgetting that a year ago I was just a mother, not at all involved in politics. I have had to study a lot and I’m trying to do what I can, where I am … But the responsibility isn’t just on me, it’s on all Belarusians.”
She urged Belarusians not to return to their everyday lives, but to keep working with the opposition.
The opposition leader’s words come after Belarus briefly became the focus of the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games after one of the Belarusian athletes sought assistance from Tokyo police in order to avoid going back to her country where she believed she would be in danger.
Tsikhanouskaya pointed to the situation involving the athlete as proof that there is no room for any kind of dissent against Lukashenko in the country anymore.
As reported by The Daily Wire, Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she was taken off of the Olympic team after she criticized her coaches in a post on social media.
In an interview with Reuters, Tsimanouskaya said that she had been informed that the command to send her back to Belarus had come from “high up” in the country.
On August 1, Poland’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marcin Pryzdacz, said that Tsimanouskaya had been given a visa.