Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is on Russia’s most wanted list

Russia, who openly supports Belarus’s embattled president Lukashenko has put the opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on its most wanted list over criminal charges.

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Belarus opposition leader Tikhanovskaya stood against President Alexander Lukashenko in the August disputed presidential elections that were seen fraudulent after Lukashenko declared himself as the winner. The result was nationwide mass protests in the country with opposition and demonstrators demanding stepping down of Lukashenko. But the latter maintains that they are “Western puppets” who want to overthrow him. The majority of Lukashenko can be attributed to the support he enjoys from Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and the charges on Tikhanovskaya are a proof of the same.

Tikhanovskaya recently visited Germany and met Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin along with other German officials and used the opportunity to discuss the current democratic crisis in Belarus with Merkel asking for Germany’s intervention. Lukshenko has been declared illegitimate president by the EU and sees Ms. Tikhanovskaaya as the true winner of presidential elections. EU has slapped sanctions on 40 top Belarusian officials, but not on Lukashenko.

The interior ministry of Russia hasn’t given complete details regarding charges on Ms. Tikhanovskaya except releasing statement of putting her name on the most wanted list. Russia’s Tass news agency reports that Ms. Svetlana’s name was on the wanted list in Belarus. According to the agreement between Belarus and Russia the Belarusian warrant would be applicable in Russia as well.

After the protests broke out in Belarus and the authorities started targeting opposition figures and protestors, Tikhanovskaya was forced to go into exile in Lithuania citing threat to her family. She stood in election opposite Lukashenko only after her husband, a prominent blogger, was sent to jail and was barred from contesting the election. Ms. Tikhanovskaya has been urging the international community and world leaders to step in and pressurize Lukashenko to have smooth democratic transition in the country through negotiation.

Weeks into the anti-government demonstrations in Belarus has witnessed thousands coming onto the streets demanding Lukashenko to step down. Police authorities have beaten up the opposition leaders, detained and charged them. People are demanding release of all political prisoners and fair re-election.

Four EU nations, including Germany have recalled their ambassadors in Belarus showing solidarity with Lithuania and Poland. Belarus is blaming Poland and Lithuania of interfering in country’s internal matters and had called its ambassadors from these nations. In response Poland and Lithuania too recalled their ambassadors from Minsk.

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