Belarusian united opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanouskaya casts her ballot at a polling station during the presidential election in Minsk, Belarus August 9, 2020. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya fled the country following a second night of violent protests over the results of the presidential election. After 26 years in power, President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko won his sixth term when the race was called Sunday with Lukashenko holding an 80% share of the vote while Tikhanovskaya held 9.9%.

Tikhanovskaya made the decision to leave her home country to join her two children, whom she had sent to a unspecified country after her family received death threats. A political novice, Tikhanovskaya joined the race after her husband, an opposition blogger and presidential hopeful, was detained in May. Tikhanovskaya received a one-year visa and a safe place to stay with her family from the government of Lithuania. 

Tikhanovskaya’s campaign denounced the election results Monday prior to filing a complaint with the Central Election Commission. After entering the CEC building, her campaign was unable to reach her for several hours. Following the meeting, Tikhanovksaya released a video, which appeared to be recorded “under duress,” reading a prepared text asking citizens to not resist police or protest in public areas. In a second video, Tikhanovskaya said she made the decision “completely independently,” though several journalists on Twitter noted her “forced” and “emotional” intonation. She added, “I know that many will understand me, many will condemn me, many will hate me. But I wouldn’t wish this choice on anyone.”

Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius said in a news conference, “Apparently, the other choice was not compatible with freedom, so she needed to take the offered possibility to leave the country, and used it.”

Several other candidates’ campaigns were stalled before the election. Valery Tsepkalo, a former Belarusan ambassador to the United States, was forced to flee to Russia when he was not allowed to register as a candidate, while two others were detained.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

The Belarus opposition leader reappeared in neighboring Lithuania after challenging its election result. Reports say she left as a deal to get her chief of staff out of jail. – Business Insider – 8/11/2020
The main opposition figure in Belarus’ election has left the country and gone to neighbouring Lithuania as protests over the disputed results continue. According to multiple reports, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya left Belarus as part of a deal with authorities to free her campaign manager, who had been detained. Tikhanovskaya vanished after lodging an official complaint with Belarus election authorities over the results. For a time on Monday her own campaign officials said they did not know where she had gone.

Tikhanovskaya’s team surprised over her decision to leave Belarus – TASS – 8/11/2020
Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s decision to leave the republic has come as a surprise to her team, Olga Kovalkova, a member of Tikhanovskaya’s election campaign, said during Tuesday’s press conference. “Before her visit to the Central Election Commission, Tikhanovskaya was not planning to leave Belarus, she could have made this decision under pressure,” Kovalkova said. “This decision came as a surprise to us; before her visit to the Central Election Commission, she wasn’t planning on making it.”

‘Not a single life is worth what’s happening now’: Opposition leader Tikhanovskaya says she left Belarus of her own accord – RT International – 8/11/2020
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya says it was her own decision to leave Belarus for Lithuania, supporting the claim by the Belarusian authorities that she departed from the country voluntarily. […] “I made this decision absolutely on my own. No one – not friends, not family, not the campaign HQ [influenced me],” she said, adding that she would probably face criticism and “hate” for leaving Belarus for Lithuania.

‘No life is a good price’: Belarus opposition leader posts video from Lithuania – The Guardian – 8/11/2020
[VIDEO] Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the main opposition candidate in Belarus’ disputed elections, is thought to have left the country for Lithuania as clashes between heavily armed police and demonstrators escalated during a second night of protests follow re-election of longtime ruler Alexander Lukashenko. In an emotional video posted to social media, Tikhanovskaya indicated she had faced an ultimatum and urged people to ‘please be careful’ adding that ‘children are the most important part of our lives’.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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