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Belarusian opposition leader to visit Swiss and UN representatives


Belarusian opposition leader to visit Swiss and UN representatives

Photo: Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya will meet with UN and Swiss parliament representatives today.

The visit forms the final leg of a multi-country trip for Tikhanovskaya, which included stops in Finland and Portugal. Tikhanovskaya, who fled Belarus following illegitimate presidential elections in August, has become the popular face of an anti-corruption opposition movement supported by nearly half the population. As protests endure throughout the country despite government crackdowns, she has led from abroad, pushing for stronger international sanctions against the Belarusian elite and a more active crisis response.

After the meeting, the UN will likely issue a statement denouncing human rights violations against protesters and calling for election reform. Consequently, a stronger international response is highly probable. Expect protests to grow in the coming months even in the face of government suppression and violence, potentially buoyed by increased international media and technology support.

In the medium- to long-term, global pressure may force Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to acquiesce to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agenda for Russia-Belarusian unification. Russia has significant security interests in Belarus and has invested heavily in Lukashenko’s regime to secure its western border against NATO. Although a union would guarantee border security, it could also increase NATO strategic concerns and military footing.

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