The making of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Belarus’s leader in waiting

‘The European Union needs to be harsher. It needs to be braver,’ Tikhanovskaya tells Oliver Carroll

Sunday 20 September 2020 10:48 BST
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Svetlana Tikhanovskaya speaking via video message to the United Nations Human Rights Council
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya speaking via video message to the United Nations Human Rights Council

It has been six weeks since Alexander Lukashenko wrote off his presidential rival, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, as a “wretched little girl”.

Since then, the former teacher and housewife, has surprised everyone – herself included. Only standing because Lukashenko had jailed her husband, Tikhanovskaya headed a female triumvirate of opposition politicians through an almost perfect campaign. Belarus’s 26-year autocrat claimed a landslide victory in the 9 August vote,  but she almost certainly won it comfortably.

In the grim crackdown that followed, Tikhanovskaya was forcibly removed from the country. Many predicted that would be the end of the road for her and the movement she headed. Instead, Belarus has witnessed a remarkable, sustained and increasingly creative civic awakening.

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