Belarusian opposition politician Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has called for more mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s 26-year rule while also announcing she would not run for presidency if fresh elections are held.
Tikhanovskaya, who became Lukashenko’s rival in the August 9 election in which he was declared the victor, fled to neighbouring Lithuania after the polls.
She emerged from obscurity to take her husband Siarhei Tsikhanouski’s place in the election campaign after he was jailed in May.
“I’m not planning to run myself,” Tikhanovskaya said in an interview with Belsat TV when asked if she or her husband, a well-known video blogger, would run for the presidency.
Earlier this week, Tikhanovskaya said she was ready to lead Belarus and called for the creation of a legal mechanism to ensure a new fair presidential election could be held.
“More than enough,” added Tikhanovskaya, who led some of the biggest protests against Lukashenko since he came to power with the fall of the Soviet Union, when asked if she had enough of politics.
After election results were announced, mass protests broke out against Lukashenko, and he was accused of rigging the election.
In a separate news conference on Saturday, her first public remarks since fleeing to Lithuania, Tikhanovskaya said Belarusians would “never accept the current leadership again”.
“The future of Belarus, and therefore the future of our children, now depends on your unity and your determination. So I ask you – go on and expand the strikes. Don’t be fooled by intimidation. Unite,” she added.
She also said the release of political prisoners is one of the demands of protesters and “new fair transparent elections can restore justice”.