Svetlana Tikhanovskaya: I feel safe in the European Union

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The leader of her opposition Belarus Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said today from Lisbon that she feels safe within the European Union, following the extradition request made public by Belarus yesterday.

“I feel safe in the European Union,” said Svetlana Tichanovskaya, responding to a request for extradition to Lithuania, where she was forced to seek refuge in the post-2020 disputed movement.

The Lithuanian authorities categorically rejected the request.

“Everyone understands that this demand is politically motivated,” Tikhanovskaya added after a meeting in the center of Lisbon with members of the Belarusian community during a rally in support of political prisoners in Belarus, attended by 100 people.

The regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been cracking down on a historic controversy since last year following his controversial re-election in August.

Lukashenko’s opponent in the presidential election, Tikhanovskaya, a leading figure in Belarus’ opposition, was forced to flee to Lithuania shortly after the election.

He has been prosecuted since the autumn of 2020 for “appeals to actions that affected national security”, a crime punishable by three to five years in prison.

On the occasion of her trip to Portugal, Svetlana Tichanovskaya met on Friday with Prime Minister Antonio Costa, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, as part of a European tour.

At the end of the meeting, Costa expressed his support for “the right to demonstrate peacefully” and for “free and fair elections”.

“Democracy and the rule of law are at the heart of European values,” Costa said in a message posted on his Twitter account.

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