The arrest of the Belarusian journalist and activist Roman Protasevich is the result of impunity in Belarus. That says opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya in an interview with DeccEit. It calls on other countries to continue to exert pressure on her country.
According to Tikhanovskaya, too little has been done so far to stop the Belarusian regime. “There were no plans, no conferences on the situation in Belarus,” she says. “There were declarations of solidarity, but not much else was done.” According to the opposition leader, this has given President Lukashenko a lot of room.
“ He thought everyone had forgotten him. He thought, “I can do whatever I want. So again, we are asking that Belarus should not escape your attention.”
Tikhanovskaya spoke with EU correspondent Kysia Hekster about the arrest of the Belarusian journalist and activist Protasevich:
Tikhanovskaya says that the Belarusian opposition wants to participate in the G7 summit in order to prevent Belarus from being removed from the agenda. “What we need is constant pressure on Lukashenko and his supporters.”
The 26-year-old journalist and activist Protasevich was arrested on Sunday in the Belarusian capital Minsk, after the Ryanair plane in which he was seated was diverted there under Belarusian pressure.
According to the Belarusian authorities, a bomb threat from the Palestinian militant organisation Hamas was the reason for the diversion. Later Lukashenko said that a mail on this was sent from Switzerland. Hamas denies any involvement.
Today, a Swiss e-mail service reports that the “bomb threat” was sent only after the Ryanair aircraft had already been diverted. Yesterday several media had already reported about that. “We have not seen any credible evidence for the Belarusian claims,” says the company Proton Technologies in a statement.
The arrested Protasevich is on the terrorist list of the Belarusian secret service. That is why he has been given years of imprisonment over his head.
Other countries reacted furiously to Protasevichs arrest. EU countries want to quickly introduce economic sanctions against Belarus.
Opposition leader Tikhanovskaya calls on the EU to make very targeted choices and, in particular, to hit the companies working with President Lukashenkos regime. “So that other small businesses stay out of control and the regime feels the pain.”
European Foreign Ministers are working on this, reports AP news agency. Today in Lisbon, they are talking about the measures and are working on economic sanctions that are particularly affected by companies close to Lukashenko.
The Austrian Foreign Minister acknowledges that this is a difficult balance. “We do not want to drive the country into Russias arms,” he said.
Like Protasevich, opposition leader Tikhanovskaya is fighting against the Belarusian regime. In August she participated in the presidential elections, which were officially won by the incumbent President Lukashenko, but whose victory was claimed by Tikhanovskaya. There would have been widespread fraud. The EU also does not recognise the official results.
The results of the election led to mass demonstrations of opposition supporters. Minsk and other Belarusian cities for weeks were the backdrop of protests that were often knocked down hard.
Tikhanovskaya itself fled Belarus shortly after the elections. She now resides in exile in neighbouring Lithuania. Tichanovskaya has children, who live with her in Lithuania. Her husband, a well-known blogger and politician, is in prison.
CCEit on 3 made the following video during the election turmoil in Belarus: