Self-exiled Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Tikanovskaya urges supporters to ‘defend their vote’

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who has fled to Lithuania, urged Belarusian authorities to stop the “violence” and engage in dialogue with the protesters. She asked her supporters to hold peaceful rallies during the weekend.

In a video posted on YouTube, Tikhanovskaya called on her supporters to commit “legal, non-violent” action, while accusing the government of turning “peaceful protests into a bloodbath.”

We must stop the violence on the streets of Belarusian cities. I ask the authorities to stop it, and to engage in dialogue.

Tikhanovskaya left for Lithuania after President Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected for a sixth term in office last week. His victory sparked accusations of vote-rigging and triggered protests and clashes with police throughout the country.

She appealed to city mayors to “act as organizers” of peaceful demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday.

Tikhanovskaya repeated the claim that the election victory has been stolen from her, citing “copies of polling station protocols” as proof.

“Belarusians will not want to live under the existing authorities ever again. The majority does not believe in [Lukashenko’s] victory,” she said. 

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