Belarusian dissident Svetlana Tikhanovska, who traveled to Washington on Wednesday, urged her country to sever ties with its “colonial” Russian neighbour.
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“The time has come to oppose Russian interference in the internal affairs of Belarus,” she said during a congressional press conference.
Moscow is “supporting the illegitimate regime” and “carrying out colonial actions,” accused the 40-year-old opponent, who ran for president in 2020 against Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s strongman, who has been in power for three decades.
Forced into exile, she is now the face of democratic forces in Belarus and the enemy of a regime whose brutal abuses she tirelessly denounces.
From Washington, Svetlana Tikhanovska called on Belarusians to sever their “close ties with the Russian aggressor”.
She lamented that “the military aggressor freely uses our lands and airspace to attack and threaten Ukraine,” calling on the Russian army to “completely withdraw from Belarus.”
In early March, a Belarusian court sentenced Svetlana Tikhanovska in absentia to 15 years in prison, in the course of a fierce crackdown orchestrated by Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.
The press conference I attended in the US Congress was organized by two senators heading a parliamentary group in support of the Belarusian opposition.
“Mr. Lukashenko has allowed sovereign territory in Belarus to be used to promote Putin’s expansionist project and to facilitate unprovoked attacks against Ukraine,” Jeanne Shaheen, a senator from New Hampshire, decried.
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