Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said she hoped the White House in Biden would strengthen its efforts to oust Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s strong leader.
The man, often referred to as Europe’s last dictator, remains in power after the August election, which is considered internationally committed. Since then, a brutal violent arrest and thousands of arrests have not dampened the enthusiasm of protesters who see Tikhanovskaya as their legitimately elected president.
In exile in neighboring Lithuania, he was optimistic about the role that President-elect Joe Biden could play in overthrowing Lukashenko, who relied on the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin to stay in power.
“I am confident that Joe Biden will keep his promises about Belarus and his attitude towards this system,” she said. Newsweek from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. “We know that he stands for democracy and supports the Belarusian people and Belarusian society.”
Last month, Biden said he would step up pressure on Lukashenko if he was elected president, adding that President Donald Trump was “unwilling to speak on their behalf.”
Biden called for an international approach to sanctions against Lukashenko, saying: “I will continue to stand with the people of Belarus and support their democratic aspirations.”
This feeling encouraged Tikhanovskaya, who has met with European leaders over the past two months, and can count on their widespread support. However, he feels that American pressure would be key to forcing Lukashenko’s hand.
“We consider economic sanctions to be one of the most important ways to put pressure on the regime because, although Lukashenko has financial support from abroad, he spends that money on riot police, violence, murder and torture.
“Joe Biden has a strong position on the Belarus issue. I hope he will deliver on what he has said. I think he would be bolder in his decisions and actions on Belarus.”
Tikhanovskaya entered the election only after her husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, who is now in prison, could not be elected.
On the trail of the campaign, a huge crowd flocked to its events, inspiring her appearance on stage with two other female activists, Veronika Tsepkalo and Maria Kolesnikova, who symbolized a hopeful future.
“Europe has a strong position on Belarus, but there are a lot of countries, so sometimes it’s a little too slow and difficult,” Tikhanovskaya said. Newsweek. “If the US puts pressure on the regime, I’m sure Europe will be more active,” he added.
Statista’s graph below shows the official share of votes claimed by Alexander Lukashenko.