As the crackdown on dissent continues in Belarus, the exiled opposition leader says she is confident the UK will offer further help to the country’s people.
At a meeting in Downing Street Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said she had been assured by Mr Johnson that the UK would help create “multiple points of pressure” on Mr Lukashenko’s government.
Civil unrest in Belarus has resulted in mass arrests following the disputed re-election of President Lukashenko in August 2020. The exiled opposition leader claimed victory in last year’s Belarusian presidential election, after standing in place of her politician husband who was detained in March 2020. But, forced to flee the country with her children on the day after the election, she now lives in Lithuania.
Outside No.10 she told reporters she had not discussed “concrete” actions the UK might take with Mr Johnson, adding that this would require “further work”. But asked if she thought such help would be offered by the UK, she replied: “I am sure.”
The plea for help comes after a Belarusian Olympic athlete who feared for her safety at the Olympic games was granted a humanitarian visa by Poland. And Vitaly Shishov, the head of a group helping people who had fled Belarus, was found dead earlier this week near his home in neighbouring Ukraine. Police said they were investigating whether he had been murdered and his death made to look like suicide.
Ms Tikhanovskaya said it was too early to comment on Mr Shishov’s death, but she said she was determined to carry on the fight against the government of Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994.
Welcoming Ms Tikhanovskaya to Downing Street, Mr Johnson said:
“We are very much on your side, very much in support of what you are doing. We are committed to supporting human rights and civil society in Belarus.”