The self-described leader of Belarus’ opposition movement, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has called on US politicians to support her bid to remove her country’s embattled leader, Alexander Lukashenko, as part of her visit to Washington.
In an interview with the National Interest magazine, published on Sunday, the 39-year-old activist, who has been living abroad since last summer’s Belarusian presidential election, expressed hope that new US President Joe Biden would directly intervene in the Eastern European nation’s domestic dispute. “With Biden’s help we will prevail,” she said.
Described as “elegantly dressed” by the interviewer, the outlet reflected that Tikhanovskaya has “made it clear that she is looking to the Biden administration to bolster the beleaguered opposition,” which has lost momentum domestically in recent months, and “democratize Belarus.” She also blasted Lukashenko as “a complete puppet,” while arguing that the long-standing president is far from an ideal ally for Russia either. However, when asked whether she hopes to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in the future, she simply said she doesn’t know.
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However, the article acknowledges a recent poll of Belarusians published by a London think-tank, Chatham House. Surveying a total of 937 respondents in April this year, the research found that only one in ten people in the country felt Tikhanovskaya would make a good president, compared to one in four for Lukashenko.
Jailed former presidential hopeful Viktor Babariko was backed by around a third of those who responded. The former financier was handed 14 years in prison earlier this month over claims he was involved in corrupt practices at Belgazprombank, a financial institution owned by Russian investors with links to the country’s Gazprom oil giant, and based in Belarus. He denied the charges.
In addition, the Chatham House survey found that only one in four Belarusians believe Lukashenko will step down this year, while 19% say he will serve at least another term in office.
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