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Lithuania grants diplomatic status to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s office

The office of exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya) has received diplomatic status in Lithuania as the “Belarusian Democracy Representative Office.” 

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis gave Tikhanovskaya the corresponding accreditation note on Monday, July 5. 

“Lithuania has launched a new stage in the delegitimization of the [Lukashenko] regime,” Tikhanovskaya wrote on Telegram. “This is the first EU country to take this step and work is already underway to open representative [offices] of the people of Belarus in other countries.”

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was Alexander Lukashenko’s main rival during the 2020 presidential election in Belarus. Tikhanovskaya and her supporters didn’t recognize the official election results, which declared that Lukashenko had won his sixth consecutive presidential race (he’s been in power since 1994). The contested election sparked mass protests in Belarus and Tikhanovskaya fled to Lithuania under pressure from the authorities. There are still several criminal cases against her in Belarus — Minsk has demanded her extradition from Lithuania, but Vilnius has refused to hand her over. 

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