US senators meet with Belarus opposition ‘hero’ Svetlana Tikhanovskaya

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US senators said Tuesday that they held talks with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, voicing their support for the monthslong anti-government protests against a Russian-backed leader in the eastern European country.

Senator Chris Murphy tweeted that he and two other senators, Tim Kaine and Dick Durbin, met virtually with Tikhanovskaya who he a called “a hero.”

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Murphy added: “We are pushing to get the Senate to act in support of the movement.”

Kaine said that the discussion with Tikhanovskaya “only reinforced my belief that the US needs to take stronger actions to hold Alexander Lukashenko’s regime accountable for its violent repression of peaceful protests.”

The Virginia senator said he was looking forward to working with his colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in order to support the protest movement in its struggle against “Europe’s last dictator.” Kaine was referring to Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet state for 26 years

The White House previously called on Russia to “respect” sovereignty and democracy in neighboring Belarus.

Unprecedented demonstrations broke out in Belarus after Lukashenko, claimed to have defeated Tikhanovskaya and won re-election with 80 percent of the vote on August 9.

Opposition supporters rally in the center of Minsk, Belarus, Aug. 16, 2020. (AP)
Opposition supporters rally in the center of Minsk, Belarus, Aug. 16, 2020. (AP)

Russia, whose oil exports run through Belarus to the West and which has long regarded the country as a buffer zone against NATO, and by the West, has tried to lure Minsk from Moscow’s orbit.

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- With Reuters