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‘The people of Belarus have made their choice’ Belarusian opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya calls for end to protests in suspicious video shared online
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya), the leading opposition candidate in Belarus’s recently concluded presidential election, appears in a newly released video where she calls on her supporters to cease all street protests.
The video was shared on the pro-government Telegram channel Zheltye Slivy without indicating any source. It is unclear when or where the message was recorded, though investigative journalists at the Conflict Intelligence Team say the window blinds and couch in the footage match furnishings in Belarusian Central Election Commissioner Lidia Yermoshina’s office. In the video, Tikhanovskaya reads her statement from a sheet of paper without looking up at the camera.
“I, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, thank you for your participation in the presidential election. The people of Belarus have made their choice. It is with gratitude and warmth that I appeal to all the citizens who supported me all this time. Belarusians! I call on you to exercise your better judgment and respect the law. I don’t want bloodshed or violence. I ask you not to confront the police or go out into the public squares, so as not to endanger your lives. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones,” said Tikhanovskaya.
On the morning of August 11, journalists learned that Tikhanovskaya is now in Lithuania. Members of her campaign say she left the country unwillingly and under pressure from the authorities, in exchange for the release of her campaign manager, Maria Moroz (Maryja Maroz).
Shortly thereafter, another video appeared online with Tikhanovskaya where she described her departure from Belarus as “a difficult decision.” “I thought that this whole campaign had hardened me and given me so much strength that I could hold up against anything, but I’m probably still the weak woman I was at the start,” she said.
On Monday, August 10, Tikhanovskaya spent three hours at the Belarusian Central Election Commission building. Her campaign staff said she was being held there against her will. Maria Kolesnikova (Maryia Kalesnikava), one of Tikhanovskaya’s political allies, later said: “A person alone for three hours with two law-enforcement officers can end up reading out any text.”
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