Christopher Miller+ Your Authors @ChristopherJM Correspondent for @BuzzFeedNews, focus on Eastern Europe, US NatSec & foreign policy. 10+ years in Ukraine. Email/DM for Signal. [email protected] Sep. 08, 2020 1 min read + Your Authors

“My role now can be described as national leader, I think. And, of course, as the national, chosen president.”

My interview with Belarus's Svetlana Tikhanovskaya for @BuzzFeedNews: 

Tikhanovskaya spoke to me from Vilnius, where she's living in exile after being forced out of Belarus. We covered her goals; the int'l response to the uprising, including US; Maria Kolesnikova's abduction; her childhood in Ireland; Lukashenko and his assault rifle; and more.

“What has to happen is new, honest elections. It’s our number one goal,” she said. “And after this, building a new country. And all people have to participate in building this new country. We don’t want that one person to have all the power over people.” 

“I asked Mr. [Stephen] Biegun not to interfere in our internal affairs,” Tikhanovskaya said, referring to US dep secretary of state. “What’s going on now is an internal affair, it’s our political crisis. I don’t think it would be OK if any country in the world would interfere."

“The regime is engaged in terror, there is no other name for it,” TIkhanovskaya said of the abduction of ally Maria Kolesnikova yesterday and the previous abuse and torture of protesters by Lukashenko's police forces. 

Tikhanovskaya said her summers in Ireland as a child helped shape her view of the world. 

More on US: Tikhanovskaya hopes Americans will keep an eye on events in Belarus, support the pro-democracy movement. “I know you have presidential debates soon. Maybe if the Belarusian issue will be raised during these presidential debates we would be rather grateful for this.”

Tikhanovskaya on Lukashenko and his gun yesterday: “It’s hard to know what he’s doing. We don’t understand if he wants to show us that he’s ready to kill his people or maybe he’s so afraid of his people that he has to have his gun.” 

Lukashenko on his gun today: “My appearance with the gun meant one thing: that I had not fled and that I am ready to defend my country to the end.” 

You can follow @ChristopherJM.


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