Opponent Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa has left Belarus for Lithuania

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, an opposition candidate who questioned the outcome of the Belarusian presidential election, fled to Lithuania on Tuesday, a political novice, main rival of outgoing President Alexander Lukashenko, believes she won Sunday’s poll.

Belarussian opponent Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has joined her children in Lithuania, where she is safe, the Vilnius government announced on Tuesday (August 11) after two nights of clashes in Minsk following the controversial re-election of Alexander Lukashenko as head of the former Soviet republic.

“Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is safe. She is in Lithuania,” Lithuanian diplomat Linas Linkevicius wrote on Twitter.

“She is resting with her children,” a spokeswoman for her ministry told Reuters.

“A very difficult decision”

Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa’s entourage was worried Monday night about not being able to reach her by phone after a meeting with officials from the Electoral Commission in Minsk.

“I made this very difficult decision. It is a decision I made completely independently,” said Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in a video posted on YouTube.

According to her campaign team, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, 37, was forced to leave Belarus.

“She was deported from the country by the authorities. Svetlana had no choice. Five minutes before the visit, we talked about our future plans and she really had no intention of leaving the country,” Olga Kovalkova, a member of her team, told Reuters.

Lithuania, a member of the European Union and NATO, belonged to the Soviet Union. It has often taken refuge in figures of the Russian and Belarusian opposition.

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Charges for election fraud

The Central Election Commission announced on Monday that, according to preliminary results, Alexander Lukashenko had won 80% of the vote in Sunday’s presidential election, compared to 9.9% of the vote for his main opponent.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a former English teacher who emerged from the shadows after the arrest in May of her husband, blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, who chaired the presidency, refused to acknowledge the result.

The opponent told the press in Minsk that she believed she had won the vote, in her eyes obsessed with massive fraud, and her team demanded a new number of votes at the polling stations where problems were identified.

Collisions on Sunday and Monday night opposed police against protesters protesting the re-election of the outgoing president.

At least one person died in Minsk on Monday in clashes with police. Protesters set up barricades in several districts of the Belarusian capital and threw burning cocktails at police. Local media reported incidents in other cities.

With AFP and Reuters