Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

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Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya
Святлана Ціханоўская
Светлана Тихановская
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, 2020.jpg
Tsikhanouskaya in November 2020
Personal details
Born
Sviatlana Heorhiyeuna Pilipchuk

(1982-09-11) 11 September 1982 (age 38)
Mikashevichy, Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union
CitizenshipBelarus
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)
(m. 2004)
Children2
Alma materMozyr State Pedagogical University
OccupationTeacher, interpreter, politician
WebsiteOfficial website

Sviatlana Heorhiyeuna Tsikhanouskaya or Svetlana Georgiyevna Tikhanovskaya (née Pilipchuk; Belarusian: Святлана Георгіеўна Ціханоўская (Піліпчук) [sʲvʲaˈtlana ɣʲɛˈɔrɣʲijɛwna t͡sʲixaˈnɔwskaja pʲilʲipˈt͡ʂuk];[a] Russian: Светлана Георгиевна Тихановская (Пилипчук) [svʲɪˈtlanə ɡʲɪˈorɡʲɪ(j)ɪvnə tʲɪxɐˈnofskəjə pʲɪlʲɪpˈtɕuk]; born 11 September 1982) is a Belarusian human rights activist and politician who ran in the 2020 Belarusian presidential election as the main opposition candidate. She is married to activist Sergei Tikhanovsky, who was a candidate in the same election until his arrest on 29 May 2020; she subsequently announced her intention to run in his place.

The incumbent Alexander Lukashenko was officially declared the victor in the election marred by allegations of widespread electoral fraud.[1] Subsequently, Tsikhanouskaya claimed to have received between 60 and 70% of the vote[2][3] and has appealed to Western countries to recognise her as the winner, although they instead called for a re-run and no longer recognize Lukashenko as president.[4]

Biography[edit]

Before running for president, Tsikhanouskaya was an English teacher[5][6] and interpreter.[7] She spent many summers in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, as part of a programme for children affected by the Chernobyl disaster.[8] She is married to YouTuber, blogger, and activist Sergei Tikhanovsky, who was arrested in May 2020.[6] The couple has a son and a daughter.[5]

2020 Belarusian presidential election campaign[edit]

After her husband's arrest on 29 May, Tsikhanouskaya announced her intention to run in his place. She registered as an Independent candidate on 14 July 2020.[9] After registering, she was endorsed by the campaigns of Valery Tsepkalo and Viktar Babaryka, two prominent opposition politicians who were barred from registering, with one being arrested and the other fleeing the country. A photo of Tsikhanouskaya with Maria Kolesnikova, Babaryka's campaign chief, and Veronika Tsepkalo, Valery Tsepkalo's wife, has become a symbol of her campaign.[10]

The night before the election, police detained senior staffers from Tsikhanouskaya's campaign and she chose to go into hiding in Minsk, before re-emerging on election day at a polling station.[11]

Harassment[edit]

Before the presidential campaign, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko insisted the country was not ready for a female president.[12] Her campaign began as Amnesty International condemned Belarus's discriminatory treatment of women opposition activists, including threats of sexual violence[13] and threats by authorities to take children away from opposition figures and send them to state-run orphanages.[13][14] In response to the threats, Tsikhanouskaya sent her children abroad to live with their grandmother.[14][5][15] She has said she has repeatedly been threatened,[16] recounting a phone call saying, "We will put you behind bars and place your children in an orphanage."[5] Tsikhanouskaya said she nevertheless decided to persevere in her campaign: "There must be a symbol of freedom."[5]

Platform[edit]

Tsikhanouskaya said that she ran for president out of love, to free her husband from prison.[17] She has vowed to free all political prisoners in Belarus, to introduce democratic reforms to the country, and to move away from the union treaty with Russia, which many Belarusian opposition figures view as an infringement on the country's sovereignty.[5] She has also pledged to set a referendum on returning to the original draft of the 1994 Belarusian constitution, reinstating a limit of two terms for the president.[11][18] She has said that her main goal is to establish free and fair elections. She views the current election as illegitimate due to the government's refusal to register Lukashenko's main political opponents as candidates. She has pledged to deliver a plan for transparent and accountable elections within six months of taking office.[19]

Tsikhanouskaya's economic platform emphasizes increasing the importance of small and medium sized businesses in the Belarusian economy. She plans to offer interest free loans to small and medium sized businesses, cancel state inspections of private entities and provide legal protection for foreign investors. Tsikhanouskaya intends to allow profitable state owned enterprises to continue to operate, while requiring unprofitable state owned enterprises to get help from outside professionals.[20]

Supporters[edit]

Tsikhanouskaya at a rally in Vitebsk on 24 July 2020

Though running as an independent, Tsikhanouskaya has attracted support from across the spectrum of Belarus's political opposition. Vital Rymašeŭski, co-leader of Belarusian Christian Democracy, announced his party's support, as did the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Assembly), United Civic Party of Belarus and Belarusian Women's Party "Nadzieja".[21][22] She has also received support from 2010 presidential candidate Mikola Statkevich.[22] Ivonka Survilla, President of the Rada of the Belarusian People's Republic expressed her support for Tsikhanouskaya.[23]

Rallies in support of Tsikhanouskaya and in opposition to Lukashenko have been the largest in the history of post-Soviet Belarus, attracting crowds of 20,000 in Brest and 60,000 in Minsk.[5]

Official results[edit]

The official results published by the Central Election Commission of Belarus[24][25] gave Tsikhanouskaya 588,622 votes, or 10.12% of the vote, to Lukashenko's 80.10%. However, allegations of wide-spread fraud were immediately made public, including a formal complaint to the Central Election Commission (CEC) by Tsikhanouskaya.[26]

Election aftermath[edit]

Self-exile[edit]

After the elections, Tsikhanouskaya was forced to flee to Lithuania in fear of repercussions, which could have possibly affected her children.[27] On 11 August, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius announced that Tsikhanouskaya was "safe" in Lithuania while also acknowledging that she had "few options".[28] The President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda spoke with her upon arrival in Lithuania.[citation needed] On 11 August, the KGB of Belarus announced that an attempt was being made on Tsikhanouskaya's life, saying that the protesters needed a "sacred sacrifice".[29] The Polish government has allotted a residence for Tsikhanouskaya and other members of the Belarusian opposition in the Praga-Południe district of Warsaw. She opened the residence along with the Belarusian House in Warsaw during a visit to Warsaw a couple days later where she met with Polish Premier Mateusz Morawiecki.[30] Her fellow opposition activist Valery Tsepkalo has also moved to Poland from Ukraine.[31]

Coordination Council[edit]

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg in Vienna in October 2020

On 14 August, Tsikhanouskaya released a video in which she claimed to have defeated Lukashenko in the first round by a decisive margin, with as little as 60% of the vote and as much as 70%.[2][3] She appealed to the international community to recognise her as the winner.[32] Tsikhanouskaya also announced the establishment of a Coordination Council to handle the transfer of power from Lukashenko.[3] Applications for membership in the council were open to any Belarusian citizen who recognised the election as having been falsified, and who was trusted by a social group by being an authoritative figure such as a doctor, a teacher, a business leader, an author or a sportsperson.[33]

On 17 August, Tsikhanouskaya released a video where she stated that she was ready to head a transitional government[34][35] and organise a new, free and fair presidential election.[36]

On 20 August, Lithuanian prime minister Saulius Skvernelis invited Tsikhanouskaya to his office and publicly referred to her as "the national leader of Belarus".[37] On 31 August, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was invited to address the United Nations Security Council.[38]

On 8 September, Tsikhanouskaya addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. She called for sanctions against Lukashenko, and "stated that Lukashenko doesn't have any legitimacy after stealing the vote, warning other countries against making any deals with the Belarussian government", and said that "He does not represent Belarus any more."[39]

On 9 September, Tsikhanouskaya said that the Belarusian opposition wants to have good relations with all nations, including Russia: "We cannot turn away from Russia because it will always be our neighbor, and we need to have good relations with them."[40]

On 10 September, a law was passed by the Lithuanian Parliament which recognises Tsikhanouskaya as the "elected leader of the people of Belarus" and the Coordination Council as the "only legitimate representatives of the Belarusian people". The resolution also declares that Lukashenko is an "illegitimate leader".[41]

On 17 September 2020, the European Parliament recognised the coordination council as the "interim representation of the people demanding democratic change" in Belarus.[42]

That same day, she released a black list of OMON officers, dubbed "Taraikovsky's List" after Alexander Taraikovsky who was killed by the OMON.[43]

Awards[edit]

Tsikhanouskaya was on the list of the BBC's 100 Women announced on 23 November 2020.[44] She was also included in the 2020 edition of The Bloomberg 50.[45]

Tsikhanouskaya was nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize by President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda and multiple Norwegian members of parliament.[46][47][48]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ also Śviatłana Hieorhijeŭna Cichanoŭskaja in the Belarusian Latin alphabet

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lukashenka vs. democracy: Where is Belarus heading?". AtlanticCouncil. 10 August 2020. Archived from the original on 12 August 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2020. However, the vote was marred by allegations of widespread fraud. These suspicions appeared to be confirmed by data from a limited number of polling stations that broke ranks with the government and identified opposition candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya as the clear winner.
  2. ^ a b "Belarus election: Exiled leader calls weekend of 'peaceful rallies'". BBC News. 14 August 2020. Archived from the original on 19 August 2020. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Belarus opposition candidate declares victory | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News". www3.nhk.or.jp. 14 August 2020. Archived from the original on 16 August 2020. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
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  19. ^ "«У Лукашэнкі вельмі нізкі рэйтынг». Што Ціханоўская сказала ў сваім першым выступе на тэлевізіі." Archived 22 July 2020 at the Wayback Machine Radio Svaboda. 21 July 2020.
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  22. ^ a b "Статкевіч, Кавалькова, Хашчавацкі, АГП і БХД. Хто падтрымлівае Сьвятлану Ціханоўскую." Archived 22 July 2020 at the Wayback Machine Radio Svaboda. 22 July 2020.
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  24. ^ ЦИК огласил окончательные итоги выборов. За Лукашенко проголосовало 80,1%, за Тихановскую — 10,1%. TUT.BY (in Russian). 14 August 2020. Archived from the original on 14 August 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
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  33. ^ Grekowicz, Nikita (16 August 2020). "Łukaszence został już tylko Putin, Cichanouska wzywa do lokalnego przejmowania władzy". OKO.press (in Polish). Archived from the original on 16 August 2020. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
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  46. ^ "Flere fredsprisforslag før fristen gikk ut". Aftenposten. Norwegian News Agency. 31 January 2021.
  47. ^ "Hektisk nomineringsaktivitet før fredsprisfrist". Dagsavisen. 31 January 2021.
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External links[edit]