Svetlana Tikhanovskaya: the Belarusian people need UN help

LIVE: Tikhanovskaya speaks at informal UN Security Council meeting on Belarus

The nation cannot and should not be hostage to the lust for power of one person, the leader of the Belarusian opposition said in her address to the UN

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, whom the Belarusian opposition considers the winner of the August 9 presidential elections in the country, spoke on Friday, September 4, at an informal UN meeting. The discussion of the human rights situation in Belarus was organized at the initiative of Estonia and with the support of a number of other countries, including the USA, Great Britain and Canada. The informal meeting, also known as the Arria formula meeting, is used to discuss topics that are unlikely to be brought to the official level due to the possibility of opposition from the permanent members of the UN Security Council..

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Svetlana Tikhanovskaya appealed to the UN

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During her speech, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya stressed that the protests in Belarus were a reaction of society to “Lukashenka’s cynical and outspoken attempt to take away votes from the people” and disproportionate violence against peaceful protesters. “The nation’s demands are simple – an immediate end to the violence and threats from the regime, the immediate release of all political prisoners and free and fair elections,” the leader of the Belarusian opposition said in an online appeal from Lithuania, where she left under pressure from the Belarusian authorities. – There is only one obstacle to meeting these requirements. This obstacle is Lukashenka, a man desperately clinging to power and refusing to listen to his people and his own government officials. “.

“The nation cannot and should not be hostage to the lust for power of one person,” added Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. – And this will not happen. The Belarusians woke up. The point of no return has already been passed. This is confirmed by the daily demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people throughout Belarus, despite police brutality and blatant disregard for Belarusian laws and international norms. This is evidenced by the strikes at the largest factories and state-owned companies in Belarus, despite intimidation and, in some cases, illegal dismissals. “.

She also called on the international community to support the aspirations of the people of Belarus in upholding their fundamental rights and freedoms: “We, the Belarusian people, need the help of the United Nations to stop flagrant violations of human rights and cynical neglect of human dignity right in the center of Europe”.

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Reaction in Minsk to Tikhanovskaya’s speech at the UN and the case against students and journalists

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Svetlana Tikhanovskaya: the Belarusian people need UN help

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“We ask the UN to condemn the excessive use of force by the Belarusian special services against the protesters. We propose to hold a special session of the UN Human Rights Council to discuss the human rights situation in Belarus. We call on the UN to immediately send the necessary international observation mission to Belarus to document the situation on the ground. We demand to allow entry and free movement of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation with human rights in Belarus, ”Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said in her address..

UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Belarus Anais Marine (Anaïs Marin), in turn, called the situation in Belarus “catastrophic” and requires “increased attention from the international community.” She confirmed that the elections in Belarus did not meet “internationally recognized criteria for free, fair and transparent elections”.

“The flagrant fraud during the counting phase, noted by local observers and some honest election commissions, demonstrates the lack of legitimacy of the incumbent in the eyes of the public,” said a UN spokeswoman. “The president and his supporters stubbornly refuse to enter into dialogue, which is the only way to reconcile people with the authorities.”.

She supported the creation of an international mediation mission between the country’s authorities and representatives of civil society in Belarus.

The UN special rapporteur also stressed that human rights violations in Belarus are not only an internal affair of the country. Among more than 6,000 detained peaceful protesters, the UN has recorded at least 450 cases of torture by the country’s special services and at least 5 deaths from injuries, Anais Marin said..

She also condemned the dissemination of misleading information by “foreign supporters of the reeling government” aimed at discretizing the social movement in Belarus and “artificially increasing the chances” of keeping Lukashenka’s regime in power..

“It seems that Vladimir Putin believes that Russia is the only country that has the right to try to influence the course of Belarus. And we shouldn’t put up with it, “says Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Research at the American Enterprise Institute in an interview with the Voice of America Russian Service. Corey Shake (Kori Schake, AEI).

The expert emphasizes that Western countries should strengthen their support for the democratic development of Belarus and make it clear to Russia that its interference will lead to serious political and economic consequences..

With regard to the current Belarusian authorities, Western countries, first of all, should signal to Lukashenka that if the violence against the protesters continues, personal sanctions will be imposed against him and the members of his regime, including an investigation into the location and seizure of their foreign funds. A number of economic sanctions should also be applied against companies connected with the Belarusian authorities, says Corey Shake.

An expert from the American Enterprise Institute also believes that the political crisis in Belarus should be resolved through international mediation between the authorities and society, in particular, by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). She also does not rule out that Western countries will need to give guarantees to Lukashenka about his safe departure from the country. “This is what we did in the case of Ferdinand Marcos when the Philippines was transitioning to democracy,” recalls Corey Schaquet..

British analyst and political risk consultant Katya Glod (Katia Glod) also believes that Western countries should take more decisive measures to support the development of democracy in Belarus. At the moment, the EU may plan to include about 17 high-ranking officials in its sanctions list, but it should be expanded to include all persons involved in falsifying election results, riot police officers and their families, the analyst said..

The expert also notes the need for a more active West against Russian interference in Belarus. Until now, the US and the EU have been timid enough about Moscow not to resort to military intervention, and have stressed that the “Belarusian issue” is not geopolitical..

“If this impasse continues for some time, which we will probably see, I think the situation will inevitably become geopolitical to some extent. And the West will have to take a tougher stance and resort to harsher criticism of Russia, ”said Katya Glod on Thursday, September 3, during a web discussion on the situation in Belarus organized by the Philadelphia Institute for Foreign Policy Research.

At the same time, the expert adds, the United States should resort to more active measures, including expanding its current sanctions list for the Lukashenka regime. According to Katya Glod, Alexander Lukashenko fears US actions much more than the EU, as he realizes the weakened Europe due to internal contradictions and the political power of the latter.

“I think that there must necessarily be a united front between the US and the EU, and the US should increase its pressure on the Lukashenka regime,” the expert concludes..

Estonian Ambassador to the UN Sven Jurgenson (Sven Jürgenson) noted in a comment to the Russian Service of the Voice of America why his country decided to organize an informal discussion in the UN Security Council on human rights violations in Belarus.

“The news about the exclusion of independent foreign media and the revocation of accreditation confirms the importance of exchanging information about what is happening in Belarus. For Estonia, upholding human rights is also a priority in foreign policy, so we consider it important to provide an arena for those whose voices are suppressed, ”the ambassador said..

Preventing violent conflicts is one of the key responsibilities of the UN Security Council, he added, and serious violations of human rights, as occurring today in Belarus, could be an early indicator of a conflict with international consequences..

“That is why it is also important to raise this issue in the UN Human Rights Council,” summed up Sven Jurgenson..

  • Valeria Jegisman

    Voice of America journalist. Prior to that, she worked for international non-governmental organizations in Washington and London, in the Russian-language version of the Estonian daily newspaper “Postimees” and as a spokesman for the Estonian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Interests – international relations, politics, economics

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  • Evgeny Maslov

    TV journalist, correspondent for the Voice of America in New York, presenter of the program New York, New York. Graduated from the Far Eastern Federal University. He started his profession as his own correspondent for NTV in Vladivostok. He continued his journalistic career in Moscow as a special correspondent for NTV, TV6 and Channel One. After moving to the USA, he began working on the RTVI channel. In 2017, he started working as a columnist for the Time Money project on the Voice of America

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Svetlana Tikhanovskaya: the Belarusian people need UN help

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