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‘I’m ready to act as national leader’ Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya makes another national address, telling police officers that now’s the time to join protesters

Source: Meduza

Belarusian opposition challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya) has appealed to the nation once again in a new YouTube video. Meduza presents an English-language translation of her remarks.

According to the government’s official results, Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka) won a sixth consecutive term with a landslide 80.1 percent of the vote, while Tikhanovskaya collected just 10.1 percent. Lukashenko is the only candidate in the race who now recognizes these results. Since the end of the election on August 9, increasingly mass protests have swept the country, as demonstrators demand Lukashenko’s resignation, a new election, and the release of all political prisoners. Police initially tried to suppress the rallies with extreme violence, but law enforcement backed down after four days and the opposition is now stronger than ever. On August 11, Tikhanovskaya revealed that she is now in Lithuania. Her campaign staff says the authorities forced her out of Belarus.

“I am ready to act as national leader”
Country for Life

Dear and beloved Belarusians! All of us and our country are witnessing a very difficult period in our own history when nastiness comes up against heroism, despair against courage, and love against betrayal. In this moment, we need to make our own choice. The time demands this of us.

In these days, as we bury our heroes, I cry together with you. This is an incredible loss for our country. Innocent young people have been killed and we must support their families. Tomorrow’s streets must bear their names — names that will remain in our memory.

I have never had any illusions about my political career. I didn’t want to be a politician, but fate put me on the front line in the fight against lawlessness and injustice. It was fate and it was all of you who believed in me. Not a minute passes that I don’t admire your courage, your self-organization, and how strong and bright you are.

You voted for me and I haven’t forgotten this. And I know precisely why you did it. We all want out of the endless cycle that’s trapped us for the past 26 years. I’m ready to take responsibility and act as national leader during this period so the country can calm down and begin a normal rhythm, and so we can release all political prisoners and prepare the legislative framework and necessary conditions to organize new presidential elections — real, fair, and transparent elections that will be accepted unequivocally by the world community.

Over the past few months, it’s become evident to the entire world that Belarusians are people who can self-organize, make the right decisions, and stand up for themselves and their loved ones. But the most important thing is that we ourselves finally understand this. This realization has been a long time coming. Belarusians today are demonstrating miracles of heroism, solidarity, and decency. Time and again, we’ve demonstrated to the world our dedication to the ideas of nonviolent resistance, proving that truth lies not with force and weapons, but with grit, honesty, decency, and courage.

These signals will be heard, certainly, and we’ll find supporters all over the globe who will help us through this difficult period. And we’ll be able to return to this country the energy of those Belarusians who, by some twist of fate, now find themselves elsewhere in the world. They’re just like us. And today they are doing everything possible to bring changes quickly to our lives. For the first time in many years, we’ve managed to become whole as Belarusians who love their country.

We’ve no right now to squander the creative energy, the positive social changes, and the determination we’ve gained and can use to change our country. We’ve transformed this country from a nation ruled by corruption and violence into one that welcomes prosperity, safety, and happiness.

I understand that the most important thing of all is the independence of Belarus. This is the constant that cannot be lost under any circumstances. My heart filled with love and pride when I learned about polling station workers honestly counting votes, ignoring pressure from the authorities, and about law-enforcement officers lowering their shields before peaceful, ordinary Belarusians. This will go down in history as actions that became signs of the time — a time of liberation. 

I want to appeal to those in uniform. Belarusians are people who reject violence. Belarusians are generous and we are fair. And if you decide not to execute criminal orders and come over to the side of the people, they will forgive you and support you and they won’t speak against you in the future. I think you yourselves know this and understand it perfectly. We’re all in this together, after all, though a certain someone wants to tear us apart and pit us against each other. We are Belarusians and we haven’t the right to raise a hand against one another. With a cool head, we need to assess what is happening and ask ourselves the simple question: Who benefits most from our confrontation? We are one and you should know that we will always accept you if your intentions are pure and your remorse is sincere. 

Strength and patience are more important to us than ever before. We express our solidarity with those defending their rights by all peaceful means, including peaceful demonstrations and strikes. We support each other, showing our cooperation and solidarity, and we never abandon each other in trouble. The whole world is watching us with admiration and hope and the readiness to help both the country and each of us. Our strength is our faith in ourselves and in each other. Remember that only together can we build a country for life.

Meduza is you.
We’re only here thanks to you.

Translation by Kevin Rothrock

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