‘Mayors of Belarus, join the movement!’ Exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya releases new video, calling for nationwide peace protests against official election results
Belarusian opposition challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya) is still apparently in Lithuania, but she’s back in her homeland’s public eye after her first video address in days. Meduza has translated the new speech into English below.
Dear friends! We have accomplished the impossible in the past few months. Just half a year ago, no one believed that Belarusians could come together and say no to the old authorities. But this is what has happened. We turned out and we voted and we made our choice — and we did it obeying the law, peacefully and with dignity.
I want to say thank you to the people who were alongside me through all this: to my team, to the campaigns of Valery Tsepkalo (Valeryy Tsapkala) and Victor Babariko (Viktar Babaryka). I want to say thank you to each and every person and every voter who voted for me and for change in our country. We, the supporters of change, are the majority. And we’ve got the receipts to prove it: we have copies of the minutes where the election boards counted the votes honestly, where my support was between 60 and 70 percent. And it was 90 percent in Novaya Borovaya. Belarusians no longer want to live with the old authorities. Most of the country doesn’t believe they won.
We have always said that we have to defend our election using only legal, non-violent means, but the authorities have turned the public’s peaceful protests into a bloodbath. The situation is critical. It’s with great pain that I’ve watched what’s happened in our country over the past few days. For me and, I’m sure, for each of us who supports change, the most precious thing is human life.
We have to stop the violence on the streets of Belarusian cities. I call on the authorities to put a stop to this and agree to a dialogue. I ask the mayors of all cities to organize peaceful mass assemblies in every city on August 15 and 16.
We’re seeing new peaceful demonstrations in the streets — “solidarity chains” of women with flowers, completely non-violent. They’re showing the whole world that we Belarusians are open, honest people who oppose violence. I thank the workers who have refused to execute criminal orders against their own compatriots. I want to think those brave enough to have declared strikes. Thank you to the workers at the Byelorussian Steel Works, the Minsk Electrotechnical Plant, the Minsk Automobile Plant, the I.T. firms from the Belarus Hi-Tech Park, and other associations that have joined in.
Let’s defend our election together. Sign your name stating that you voted for me, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. There will be a hyperlink under the video. Please don’t stay on the sidelines. Our voices must be heard.
Translation by Kevin Rothrock