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Belarus opposition leader to address Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly


Belarus opposition leader to address Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly

Photo: AP Photo/ Sergei Grits

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is set to virtually address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe today.

Tikhanovsky, who fled to Lithuania after Belarus’ disputed election on August 9, urged the UN Security Council last Friday to send impartial observers to Minsk “to document the situation on the ground.” She is likely to encourage the same course of action today. Her address follows the EU’s recent imposition of sanctions on senior Belarusian officials and its refusal to recognise President Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election. Seeking to avoid Russian suspicion that she is courting European meddling in Belarusian politics, she is unlikely to recommend further action against Lukashenko.

Although Russia has endorsed Lukashenko’s regime, tensions in Belarus has not yet spilled across its borders. Regardless, Moscow has signalled that it would deploy a “reserve force” if the situation deteriorates. Lukashenko has returned the favour by casting doubt on Russian culpability for the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Thus, even though the protests are not targeted at Russia, Moscow’sunconditional support for Lukashenko’s regime may assist in alienating protesters.

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