Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya has called on the European Union and the United States to be “braver and stronger” in their actions to help end the disputed rule of strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has run the country since 1994.
Speaking at an online event with several EU foreign ministers on January 27, Tsikhanouskaya called on the 27-nation bloc to speed up approval of its fourth package of sanctions on Lukashenka and his allies, and called for an international investigation into human rights abuses and to designate those responsible as terrorists.
Crisis In Belarus
Read our coverage as Belarusians take to the streets to demand the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and call for new elections after official results from the August 9 presidential poll gave Lukashenka a landslide victory.
“The international response is still too modest,” Tsikhanouskaya said, as she participated in the online discussion, The EU And Belarus In 2021, from Lithuania, where she relocated for security reasons after an August 9 presidential election that she and her supporters say she won.
Lukashenka’s declaration of victory has sparked continuous protests that have seen tens of thousands take to the streets demanding he leaves. Security officials have cracked down hard on the demonstrators, arresting thousands and pushing most top opposition figures out of the country. Several protesters have been killed in the violence and some rights organizations say there is credible evidence of torture being used against some of those detained.
Lukashenka, meanwhile, has denied any wrongdoing and refuses to negotiate with the opposition on stepping down and holding new elections.
The European Union, United States, Canada, and other countries have refused to recognize Lukashenka, 66, as the legitimate leader of Belarus and have slapped him and senior Belarusian officials with sanctions in response to the “falsification” of the vote and postelection crackdown.
With reporting by Reuters
This post was originally published on Radio Free.