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Opposition figurehead Tikhanovskaya uses United Nations appearance to demand immediate foreign intervention in Belarus

Opposition figurehead Tikhanovskaya uses United Nations appearance to demand immediate foreign intervention in Belarus
Exiled Belarusian presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has urged the “international community” to intervene in her country, claiming the actions of the Minsk authorities are in contradiction of “all international norms.”

The Lithuania-based opposition figurehead spoke at the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council, via a short recorded video message

“The situation in Belarus demands immediate international attention,” she said. “Peaceful protesters are being illegally detained, beaten, and raped. Some of the protesters have been found dead.”

According to Tikhanovskaya, the actions of the Belarusian authorities mean that foreign countries have the right to react “in the strongest terms.” She went on to explain that the country’s opposition wants to engage in dialogue with the current leadership, in order to find a peaceful solution.

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“We demand to immediately cease violence against peaceful citizens. We demand the immediate release of all political prisoners. We demand to allow entry and free movement to the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus. Finally, we demand free and fair elections,” Tikhanovskaya said. Included in the category of political prisoners is Sergey Tikhanovsky, her husband.

The debate on human rights in Belarus is taking place in Geneva, on the sidelines of the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Shortly after it had started, Tikhanovskaya’s short clip was interrupted by Belarusian representative Yury Ambrazevich, who said that playing the video “cannot be considered acceptable,” and is “not related ... to the event that is taking place.” Belarus received support from Russia, Venezuela, and China.

Tikhanovskaya was thrust into the limelight this summer, having spearheaded the opposition campaign in August’s Belarusian presidential election. After the results were published, and she received just 10 percent of the vote – with incumbent Lukashenko receiving 80 percent – her team dismissed the contest as rigged.

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In protest, thousands of Belarusians took to the streets, where they were met by police with tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets. On August 14, Tikhanovskaya formed the Belarus Coordination Council, a group aimed at annulling the election results. The group has been accused by the Belarusian authorities of “aiming to seize state power” and “harming national security.”

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