Belarus facing humanitarian disaster as Russia influence creeps into society

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya warned Belarus is facing “a humanitarian disaster” and that 15 to 20 people are being hauled into detention every day.

The exiled Belarussian leader compared living in the country to being part of a “dictatorship” and that people were still being detained because of the 2020 mass protests against the country’s government after Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner although the election outcome was falsified.

They are also being held for backing Ukraine.

Sviatlana, who has been unable to speak to her jailed husband Sergei Tikhanovsky for seven months, said Russian influence was creeping into society.

Her husband was thrown behind bars two days before the 2020 election after he planned to stand against Lukashenko but she had to take up the fight instead.

She said: “It is a humanitarian disaster in Belarus.

“Every day 15 to 20 people are being detained. Every day, very silently you will not see this brutality on TV but every day 15 to 20 people apply for assistance.

“People are being detained for the protests in 2020, for supporting Ukraine or for speaking the Belarussian language for example for all the cases.

“Also, we see how Russia is colonising our country and it also goes unnoticed by the world. We as people in Belarus are under huge repression – we are trying to preserve our national identity or to educate our children. What is truth and what is not?

“It’s very dangerous.”

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She said if children said anything that was not in line with the regime parents would get called into schools and that the ideologies they were taught would be changed.

“Children say everything in schools and so new ideologies appear in every school and university,” she said.

“Parents of the children will be invited for conversations in school but Putin and Lukashenko have a friendship, they need each other and they support each other and they are dependent to some extent on each other.

“Lukashenko is strengthening his personal security apparatus. He’s afraid of people, Belarussians, he’s afraid of Minsk volunteers in Ukraine. He’s very afraid of accountability.”

She will today (tues) be giving the annual Westminster Lecture in the Houses of Parliament and will be taking the opportunity to remind Britain and the rest of the world of the situation in Belarus.

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“It’s a pity Belarus is not in focus but is overshadowed by other events but the situation is still there and I will ask for global solidarity for our cause and to send the most important messages about Belarus about the connection of Belarus and Ukraine,” she said.

“The Belarussian regime is collaborant in this war. But it’s important we help Ukraine and Ukrainians as much as we can.”

She added: “Belarus is facing a humanitarian disaster like in Stalin times.

“You are afraid of every knock on the door not knowing who will be behind, your neighbour or the KGB who can detain you at any moment or when you walk the streets and speak to somebody in the Belarussian language you can end up spending time in prison.

“It’s how you feel when you live in a dictatorship. We need assistance, we need the political will of countries to do this or that. We are knocking on all the doors. We are trying to be creative. I can’t promise anything but we are trying.”

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