Understanding the situation in Belarus
- Belarus in the spotlight. The forced landing of a commercial flight on Sunday , is seen by several countries as a hijacking of state demanded by its strongman president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko.
- Election results and protest. It came less than a year after Belarusians were were the subject of brutal police repression when they protested against the results of an election which many Western governments ridiculed as a sham.
- Forced landing. Ryanair flight from Athenses in Vilnius, Lithuania, was diverted to Minsk in an attempt to arrest Roman Protasevich , a 26-year-old dissident journalist.
- Who is Roman Protasevich? In a video released by government, Mr. Protasevich confessed to participating in the organization of "mass unrest" last year, but friends say the confession was made under duress.
In a series of meetings, she called for more comprehensive sanctions against Belarusian elites and companies, to show them that it was becoming more costly for them to support Lukashenko .
While there have been statements of support and admiration from members of Congress and elected officialste of Washington, no new measures have been announced.
She and her team have also sought to postpone a planned disbursement of nearly $ 1 billion dollars by the International Monetary Fund in Belarus, but have so far failed to convince the institution to cancel the payment.
Mrs. Tikhanovskaya's journey will continue to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, highlighting the value of Western support - and its limitations.
His task, was t -she said in an interview in Vilnius, Lithuania, where she and her team established their base, was to convince her international supporters that change can come to Belarus with their help.
" We cannot postpone this goal because we postpone the freedom of our prisoners and we have to convince other countries in this area as well ", she saide declared before leaving for the United States. Image Ms. Tikhanovskaya's supporters rallied in June in Warsaw, Poland, where they held up posters of prominent bloggers from the 'opposition which are in detention. Credit ... Omar Marques / Images
"And with these detentions, with this violence, they show that they do not have no other methods of persuading people that they are strong, apart from violence, ”she said. “It can't last long, really. It's like the last breaths before death, because you can't tighten the screws indefinitely. "
Some who support Ms. Tikhanovskaya's movement s 'worried about how he may remain relevant inside Belarus with his leader abroad.
"When you are at abroad in a secure situation, all your calls to action will be accepted with great skepticism in Belarus, "said Pavel Slunkin, visiting researcher at the European Council on Foreign Relations and former Bel Arus diplomat.
Ms. Tikhanovskaya made it clear that local actors make the decisions and that when she seeks funding, it is for supporters in Belarus. "When they're ready, they decide, not us, " she said.
Mr. Slunkin acknowledged that Ms. Tikhanovskaya has been a tireless and effective advocate for her country internationally. Despite this, the repression in Belarus is intensifying.
This month the Supreme CourtEven from Belarus sentenced Viktor Babariko, a former bank manager who failed to run for president in elections last August, to 14 years in prison for corruption and money laundering in a widely held verdict. considered politically motivated.
On July 14 Belarusian law enforcement agents carried out what Amnesty International called an "unprecedented wave of searches and detentions", which raided the offices of at least a dozen civil society and human rights organizations and groups opposition.
In the past year, more than 35,000 people have been detained , according to the United Nations. Tens of thousands of Belarusians have fled abroad. The list of political prisoners held by the human rights organization Viasna, itself searched recently, includes 577 individuals.
In May, a European plane traveling in Belarusian airspace was forced to land in Minsk, where Roman Protasevich, a prominent Belarusian dissident on board , has been discontinued. Image The ant fontBelarusian i-riot arrests a protester at an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, in 2020. Credit ... Associated press
L The environment was "very dangerous", acknowledged Ms Tikhanovskaya, but insisted that she and her supporters could still be effective.
" God bless the Internet, ”she mentioned. “I am in constant dialogue with the people on the ground. I don't feel like I'm in exile. "
There are complications as she tries to coordinate the 'opposition from Lithuania, which s Belarus and where she and her The team received special diplomatic status in early July.
"The more you spend time abroad, the more you are detached fromYou represent the public there, ”said Artyom Shraibman, founder of Sense Analytics and non-resident member of the Carnegie Moscow Center, by phone from his voluntary exile from Belarus to Ukraine.
" If we are being honest, spend a year outside the country where the company changes and you have not observed it - you are only communicating with the part of the company that is as committed as you . "
Many experts, like Mr. Slunkin, believe that the essential way to resolve the crisis is to increase the price of Russian support for the Belarus. Ms Tikhanovskaya was careful not to criticize Moscow openly, but they also failed to contact Russian officials.
"She is seen by many as being pro-Western and unacceptable to Moscow, which is true, "Mr. Shraibman said. " And it 's not his choice. " Image President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus with its main supporter, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, in May. Credit .. . Pool photo by Sergei Ilyin
With all that she does, Ms Tikhanovskaya said, she is aware of how her actions can affect people behind bars in Belarus, including her husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, who ran a popular YouTube channel before announcing his own candidacy for the presidency.
He, like Mr. Babariko, and a prominent opposition politician, Valery Tsepkalo, was barred from running and jailed before the ballot. Ms. Tikhanovskaya collected dSignatures for his candidacy and presented himself in place of her husband.
In detention since May 2020, he is currently on trial, accused of organizing riots and "incitement to social hatred ".
"I always keep in mind that my husband is a hostage, like thousands of people, "Ms. Tikhanovskaya said.
But she insisted that she wants to keep the promise that last August she had: new elections in which she is not necessarily at the ballot box.
"I I am the same woman, already with experience, already with more courage than before. But listen, I'm not making my career here. After the elections, I'll get away from it all with ease. "