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EXCLUSIVE: ‘I don’t have a right to be sad’ – Belarusian opposition leader



Senior Advisor to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Franak Viačorka, details the moment the Belarusian opposition leader found out her husband has been jailed 

The husband of the Belarusian opposition leader has been jailed for 18 years at a high-security penal colony.

The sentence follows a trial that largely took place behind closed doors, with the individual convicted of “organising mass riots” and inciting social hostility.

The verdict can be appealed within 10 days, with critics saying the convictions were politically motivated.

Three others were also sent to prison for similar charges, and will spend more than a decade behind bars.

The husband of the opposition leader was arrested back in 2020 after declaring his own candidacy for president, with his wife standing in his place as a result.

She went on to lose to current leader Alexander Lukashenko and claimed the result was rigged through the use of ballot stuffing and other corrupt measures.

Belarusian opposition leader senior advisor details the moment she found out her husband has been jailed 

“It was shocking. You are never prepared for the moment when your husband is sentenced to 18 years in prison,”

Viačorka told ticker news

“I remember that moment. It was just in the middle of conversation with European politicians. I was unlucky to inform her about this. So she stopped for a second and then she continued talking. Later I asked how she felt and she said that, you know I don’t have a right to to be sad or to cry. I just have to work harder.”

Ticker’s Holly Stearnes asked the political advisor “If she could give one message to our audience and to the world out this difficult time when her husband has just been jailed a sentence of 18 years, what would it be?”

“Fight for freedom. I appreciate democracy. When you’re leaving democracy, it’s very difficult to understand its value, and it’s very easy to lose freedom and democracy… but it’s very hard to fight back for it”

Viačorka details Tsikhanouskaya message

The husband of the Belarusian opposition leader has been handed one of the longest jail terms in modern Belarusian history

Viačorka says Tsikhanouskaya is not a traditional leader and she’s still influencing situation inside of the country.

“There are 1000s of volunteers. There are dozens of underground printed houses every day, there are protests of women and students. They’re not so massive and not so visualised as last year but protest resistance continues,” he details.

“We’re just jumped back, you know, from authoritarianism, to style in time, totalitarianism, with no freedom with 1000s of political prisoners, and it’s very difficult to protest.”

However, Viačorka says Tsikhanouskaya healthcare plan is most important and what it can do to mobilise international community EU, US, Canada, UK.

“A few days ago, she met ambassadors, also Australian and New Zealand ambassadors were present,

“It’s very important their initial community speaks with one voice in support of Belarus, democratic forces,”

he says.

Is this a revenge verdict?

Viačorka says the verdict is personal revenge of Lukashenko, because he was a YouTube blogger.

“He was not a popular politician. He was not planning to be the candidate for president before April or May last year. But suddenly his subscribers on YouTube said you have to run. And Lukashenko was very angry with this because no one really challenged him before this way,” Viačorka says.

Is democracy likely in Belarus?

Viačorka says there are “Soviet nostalgic people” who wants to live in back in the USSR, who likes to have the strong man ruling the country. “Always there are such people, but the majority wants changes.”

Hey says there are doubts, but research shows that they are ready for democracy.

“But despite the government and Belarusian showed clearly that they already fight for human rights fight for rule of law, fight for justice,” Viačorka says.

“I think Lukashenko is not forever, he’s losing his grip, he is not in control even of his own people,

“So think in the next few months, we will see developments. And perhaps this developments will come from people around Lukashenko. This is why he’s so afraid of betrayal.”

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